The term Financial Fair Play is now firmly established in the football lexicon thanks to European regulations already having an impact on the game. Similar terms are now starting to be heard in conjunction with the English game following news that the Premier League clubs are soon to discuss regulated spending across the top flight.
Chelsea Football Club has already made it clear we are in favour of financial stability being promoted on the European stage, and our general support is extended to the Premier League, despite some reports to the contrary.
UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) makes up part of an extensive set of criteria that clubs across Europe must comply with to be licenced to take part in UEFA club competitions, primarily the Champions League and the Europa League.
The principle of FFP was agreed back in September 2009 with UEFA declaring several objectives to promote more disciplined football club finances, decreasing pressure on salaries and transfer fees and encouraging clubs to compete within their revenues. It encourages investment in youth development and infrastructure and is aimed at protecting the long-term viability of European club football, as well as ensuring clubs settle their liabilities on a timely basis.
The obligation is for the clubs over a fixed period to achieve a break-even figure when expenditure is measured against the income from football-related activities. The implementation period began in summer 2011, two years after FFP was first announced. There was a long period of discussion, debate and involvement of the clubs before the regulations became live and this is worth bearing in mind in light of potential Premier League regulation.
The first season UEFA will consider sanctions for clubs under FFP rules is 2013/14.
‘From Chelsea’s point of view, we have been working very hard to comply with FFP criteria,’ says Chief Executive Ron Gourlay.
‘We are still very much in favour of rules promoting financial stability in clubs and protecting the long-term future of football across Europe. We did have and still do have concerns about the fairness of rules across the whole of Europe because we think that is going to be very difficult.
‘There is a financial panel that is going to manage this process and control any sanctions and refuse any licences, and they have to deal with different currencies, different taxation levels and different types of stadium ownership. Trading legislation is different across Europe as well. Making this fair is going to be quite challenging.’
Potential new financial regulations in the Premier League were initially discussed in a shareholders meeting in May. There are further meetings to discuss this topic over the next couple of weeks but it is likely a range of proposals will be considered.
‘It wouldn’t really be appropriate to comment ahead of these meetings,’ says Gourlay, ‘but Chelsea are very much in favour of rules that promote financial stability for clubs across the domestic game as well as the European game.
‘What form that will take is unknown which is why the member clubs are going to sit down and discuss this. We will look at the integrity of the competition and how we want to operate as a league in the future. We compete in the biggest league in the world and we have to protect that.’
It is only logical that the top Premier League clubs who compete regularly in Europe and are therefore already working towards Financial Fair Play will be well placed to comply with any new domestic criteria. It is illogical that a club such as Chelsea already supporting the stabilisation of finances across the continent wouldn’t want the same at home.
‘We have been very active commercially as we strive to meet the obligations of FFP,’ explains Gourlay.
‘We added several new global partners to our portfolio over the summer and we have been exploring naming rights. These are part of ensuring we can balance the relevant football income with the relevant football expenses.
‘We have geared ourselves up for the financial regulatory structure now in place in Europe, and would like to think that we could develop an appropriate set of financial stability regulations to apply to all Premier League clubs.
‘Everyone at the club is working hard to comply with the rules and we will participate positively in the Premier League’s forthcoming meetings.’