After the Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations have been seen as a deterrent to potential investors in football clubs, Uefa have voted at its executive committee meeting this week on several measures to evolve the rules with the aim of attracting new investors while still safeguarding financial stability.
Uefa themselves consider FFP’s implementation three years ago a success with large losses down with clubs acting more financially responsible (rather than gambling on success), but investment for clubs trying to compete with the big boys of respective European leagues has been shackled.
“The new regulations are an expansion and a strengthening of financial fair play,” said Uefa president, Michel Platini. “The overall objectives of financial fair play remain the same. We are just evolving from a period of austerity to one where we can offer more opportunities for sustainable growth and development.”
Essentially there will be a certain amount of flexibility as long as a plausible business plan is submitted with the necessary break-even compliance aim and assurances of future stability are demonstrated by the end of the regime.
The general secretary, Gianni Infantino, hopes the changes will lead to an increase in competition, although its impact on helping teams to break-up the Top Four cartel in the English Premier League remains questionable.
“We are sure that these new rules will encourage investors to invest in European football because European football is the best product in the world when it comes to club football,” he said.
“We have always said we want investors in football. Of course we want good investors in football. We had people who came who promised a lot of things and perhaps have gone bankrupt.
“We have to build on the strength of financial fair play and we have to look into how we can make investment possible but with reasonable, sustainable, appropriate guarantees.”
“We want to move from the vicious circle that we had some years ago to a virtuous circle,” he said. “It is a fair argument to say, ‘If you want me to improve revenue, I first have to invest something.’ That’s a fair argument.
“You can invest something and, with investment, you can generate more revenue so we bring more clubs to compete at the top table.”
Asked if takeovers were put off during FFP, Infantino said: “Maybe. This is what we were hearing, ‘Why should we invest if it’s forbidden. If I invest, I am in breach … there are consequences.’
Any prior knowledge of Uefa’s intentions this week would have obviously had an effect on the seemingly increased interest in the buying of Aston Villa, compared to last summer when Villa owner Randy Lerner officially put the club on the market.
Hopefully, we’ll have a chance to find out the reality of just how positive the FFP changes will be in a few week’s time, when fingers-crossed, a deal for the club will be finally sealed.
For further information see the Guardian story on the UEFA meeting in Prague
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