UEFA has announced that it plans to investigate further into the finances of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain. Both clubs have passed the financial fair play regulations but in doing so raised questions about the validity of some of the additional revenue they generated to do so. If found guilty of breaching guidelines or falsifying reports, UEFA could impose heavy fines and sanctions on them but Michel Platini has already revealed that no club will be excluded from UEFA run competitions as originally suggested. The Club Financial Control Body’s (CFCB) investigatory chamber, headed by former Belgium prime minister Jean-Luc Dehaene are looking deeper into the books of over 76 clubs across Europe but its believed that Manchester City and PSG will be scrutinized the most.
Both clubs deny any wrong doing and whilst this may be accurate, its assumed that both clubs have found clever ways around the regulations to allow them to generate enough revenue to cover the cost of running their expensive squads. City for instance will have to explain the decision to sell $25million in player image rights to an unknown and yet unannounced third party. This deal is the first of its kind in the Premiership, hence why it was flagged by UEFA. Questions will be asked if the third party in questioned is associated in any way with the clubs owners or affiliated clubs like New York City FC. The newly formed New York team are outwith the reaches of the UEFA sanctioned fair play rules so are not subject to the same financial monitoring. There are also concerns around a sponsorship deal struck by PSG and the Qatar Tourism Authority. The Qatari-owned club effectively wiped out its annual losses of 130 million euros by announcing a back-dated sponsorship deal which will earn the club around 200 million euros a year. The Qatar Tourism Authority insist that an investment of this size and nature is vital to help grow awareness of Qatar and soccer in the region ahead of the 2022 World Cup which is due to be held in the city. But skeptics believe that the close links between the tourist authority and the clubs owners along with the new regulations have lead to this deal. It’s unclear what the new sponsor will get from this sizable investment, as the shirt sponsorship remains as Emirates at least until the conclusion of its contract in 2019. City also has to answer questions about a similar type of deal after they announced a £350m, 10-year deal with Etihad Airways two years ago. However this deal appears to be more valid with the stadium, training campus and shirt sponsorship coming along with the investment.
As we reported previously, UEFA’s financial fair play rules have been introduced in an attempt at leveling the playing field and restricting the potential for those clubs with wealthy owners to monopolize the transfer market. Clubs are only allowed to spend the net the same amount as they bring in but if clubs like City and PSG are bending the rules to manipulate the system then the financial fair play project will be set for failure. The man responsible for drawing up the UEFA Financial Fair play rule David Lampitt has his doubts about the PSG deal and cites recent history of sponsorships in the French league as being a good benchmark. He believes that the size and nature of this deal is far beyond anything that the league has ever seen so it raises questions about its authenticity. Whilst the fair play rules are still in its infancy, UEFA may be forced to act now and tighten the guidelines before it becomes beyond their control. UEFA will look to make an example out of PSG and City to warn other clubs about the dangers of partaking in rule bending deals in the future. PSG and City will likely pay a hefty fine but whether it makes them rethink their revenue generating ideas, we will all have to wait and see.