Europe news

Clubs warned against 'cheating' FFP

February 4, 2013

UEFA has warned clubs they will have to prove they are not "cheating" the new financial fair play (FFP) system by having sponsorship deals with companies closely associated with their owners.

Gianni Infantino UEFA general secretary
PA PhotosGianni Infantino is the UEFA general secretary

Manchester City have a £400 million deal with Etihad airline, closely linked to its Abu Dhabi-based owner, while Qatar-owned PSG have recently announced a £125 million-a-year deal with the Qatar Tourist Authority.

On Monday, UEFA published its annual benchmark report which warns two English clubs - reported to be Manchester City and Chelsea - are among 46 across 22 European countries who could fall foul of its financial rules based on 2009-2011 figures.

However, Chelsea made a profit last season and are confident they will comply when the system comes into effect next year, while City believe they will also be able to comply when the rules come into force for the 2014-15 season.

UEFA said it will check to ensure sponsorship deals have not simply been agreed at inflated values in order to allow the clubs to comply with FFP.

UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino said: "Everyone, including PSG, know they have to demonstrate [the deals] are without cheating and that will be submitted to panels.

"We have a regulation which speaks about fair value of deals and the fact that a related party cannot just inject money into a club directly or indirectly."

Clubs in European competition will be obliged to break even, within discretion of €5million (£4.3 million) over three years, though initially owners will be allowed to cover losses of up to €15million (£13 million) a year.

UEFA's report says club losses have ballooned from €600 million (£515 million) in 2007 to a record €1.7billion (£1.45 billion) in 2011, though revenues have seen an increase.

Former LA Galaxy midfielder David Beckham announced last week that his wages at new club PSG will go to charity, and UEFA has said this should be exempt from the FFP calculations.

Infantino said investments "in youth, in charity and social concerns," would be exempt from spending figures, adding: "It's certainly a very good thing that he (Beckham) donates his salary or PSG do; if and how this will have an impact [on FFP] will have to be assessed."

He also insisted the financial measures were not targeted at England, adding: "It has been perceived by some as a sort of anti-English thing - absolutely not. It is just a good common sense rule that everyone of us is implementing at home; if you earn £1,000 you can't spend £1,200.

"We can only encourage the Premier League as we encourage each league and association. I think it's very positive. We are very happy that the Football League has already introduced financial fair play."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.