UEFA’s new measures to force clubs to live within their means doesn’t go far enough

May 27, 2010

So onto my favourite topic of the world’s governing bodies. Michel Platini has today announced a plan to ensure European clubs live within their means, and a method of punishing them if they don’t. All well and good, we think. Without scratching beneath the surface it seems like a good idea, as all clubs ultimately want to play in European competition.

The new idea is to monitor club’s finances over a three year period, issue warnings to clubs who are ultimately failing to keep their finances on an even keel, and if necessary, ban clubs from competing in the either the Champions League or the Europa League. There are also exceptions to this ‘break even’ clause, so wealthy owners can spend their millions on new training grounds, youth academies and stadiums. So generally, it’s a good idea then? Err, no.

Firstly, this new proposal does absolutely nothing about existing debt. So Manchester United and Liverpool are free to just live with over a billion pounds worth of debt around their collective necks. So instantly, in my eyes UEFA have failed before this even begins. But let us move on.

The Premier League are against the ‘break even’ idea because it limits ‘competitiveness’. Now there is more chance than ever of the same five or six clubs finishing in the same positions year after year because no upstart can go out, spend £200m and put themselves in the frame. However, that evens itself out because there is also no chance of another club ‘doing a Portsmouth’. Let’s face it here, the Premier League don’t care a jot about individual clubs going out of business, all they are interested in is their ‘product’, the self proclaimed ‘best league in the world’. As a result, despite the Premier League having a valid point, it is “spoken with a forked tongue”.

No, it WILL still be possible for a club to spend a lot more money than they have, and hence still compete with the bigger clubs. How? Quite simply by charging the supporters more money than they do already, both through TV deals and at the gate. Then of course there’s club merchandise, and match day food, so either way, John Terry won’t miss out on his Champions League football or his £180,000 a week wages. Don’t worry about poor little Mr Terry.

Quite simply the only losers here are the supporters, and the culture of ridiculous wages for average footballers continues. Instead, UEFA should have dealt with the biggest issue at hand. So as much as I agree with Platini’s principle, I’d have taken it further with the below:

  • Introduce a wage cap, provisionally set at £100,000 a week starting in the next two years
  • Force clubs to use the money saved on wages to reduce ticket prices, thus attracting a more genuine supporter base, and less of the ‘prawn sandwich brigade’. I’d go further by forcing a sliding scale of prices across all domestic leagues.
  • Introduce a new law ensuring that at least three of the match day squad came through the ranks of the club, thus giving the youngsters more of a chance
  • Force clubs to have at least three players from their home nation in their match day squad, thus ending the era of an entire squad of foreigners, and home grown players having to move down the leagues to progress
  • Bar all clubs from European competition with a debt greater than the overall value of the club until the debt has been reduced.

If you’re reading Mr Platini, I’m coming for your job.

As always, I’d appreciate your comments.

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