With transfer budgets the size of those belonging to both Manchester City and Paris St-Germain, it is perhaps no surprise that they have broken UEFA’S financial fair play rules as the two clubs have been continually spending over the last two or three years in a bid to become stronger forces in Europe. As a result, the two clubs have been fined and had their squad sizes limited for next season which is unlikely to leave them significantly wounded.
The real irony in the punishments brandished by UEFA is that they have opted for financial penalties. Bearing in mind that the crime these two clubs have committed is that they haven’t abided by UEFA’s set financial rules by spending too much money, this is surely the least damaging sanction they could give. In Manchester City’s case, the figure that they are being forced to pay is 60 million euros (about £49 million). For clubs like City (and also PSG), who have been splashing these amounts of cash on players regularly in the last few years, having to cough up £49 million surely isn’t that big of a deal. They’ve also been limited to spending no more than £49 million on players this summer. Again, that will do very little to prevent them from making two or three marquee signings and it won’t make them any less of a force next season – if indeed their aim was to put them at a disadvantage for next season. Not only that but a transfer budget of £49 million would be a distant dream for 95% of clubs in the world (maybe even more) so it doesn’t really limit their firepower in the transfer market by a huge amount.
The financial fair play rules have been put in place to prevent clubs from continually spending more money than what they generate in revenue and so that clubs’ finances are (fairly) balanced. The theory is that by doing this, there will be more of a level playing field in the European competitions (the Champions League and the Europa League) and that there won’t be such a wide gulf between the European heavyweights and everyone else on the pitch purely due to the financial superiority of the heavyweights off the pitch. Therefore, if UEFA really wanted to ensure that Man City and PSG don’t spend more than what they earn, they should have done something more drastic such as imposing a transfer embargo. Therefore, it’d be a certainty that both clubs wouldn’t be breaking the rules again because, quite simply, they’d be unable to spend a single penny.
The two clubs have also been told that they cannot name more than 21 players in their Champions League squads next season which will at least give them a selection headache given that their squads are already littered with expensive recruits. Realistically though, it’s difficult to see this restriction causing either of them to suffer greatly. There have been clamours to ban them from playing in Europe altogether next season, or until they balance their books. Let’s not kid ourselves though, UEFA were never likely to do that as these two clubs would be greatly missed if they weren’t in the competition.
Despite the punishments not being as hefty as what they could have been, both Manchester City and Paris St-Germain now know they are on thin ice and if the action UEFA have taken could possibly dissuade them from spending so much money, then it can only benefit the game. With both sides winning their domestic titles and looking like the team to beat in their respective leagues, it can only help make future title races more open. However, they still have some catching up to do in Europe and they are both some way off winning the Champions League so perhaps this is wishful thinking. The Champions League is, after all, the most sought after trophy in club football.
Photo: Dannymx (via Flickr)