The governing body of European football, UEFA, have recently implemented a new set of regulations that all clubs playing in UEFA sanctioned competitions have to abide by. The Financial Fair Play regulations as they are known require clubs to balance their income against their expenditures so that the club does not accrue debts. There are exemptions to this such as youth programs as well as facility upgrades that would not be taken into account to help develop the club itself, what it will cut down on though is the huge transfer fees and player wages currently being paid across Europe.
The introduction of the new UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations is a timely one, with the increasing debt and exorbitant player wages on offer something needed to be done and quick. Manchester United and Real Madrid have two of the biggest debts in world football of $716m and $296m respectively, yet they are also two of the most successful clubs in world football. They have both taken out huge loans whether it be from the banks or their club owners to be able to pay for player transfers, agent fees and player wages to gain an advantage over their rivals. Implementing these regulations is extremely important for the future of football, although I have one major concern.
After the introduction of these regulations club owners cannot just continue to invest money into the club for player transfer fees out of their own pocket. Fair enough if an owner invests money with the aim to be repaid by the club, that should be tightened, but to punish owners who invest money into a club without the aim of being paid back is wrong. Punishing these owners who obviously care about their club does not help the situation of European football but hinders it with the trickle down effect of large transfers having hugely positive outcomes for clubs all the way down to the bottom leagues due to the trickle down effect.
For example in 2009 Manchester City spent $12m on Aston Villa’s Gareth Barry who then spent $10m on Stewart Downing of Middlesborough in the second division of English football, Middlesborough then spent $350k on Mark Yeates of Colchester United from the third division of English football. This trickle down effect is a massive income for lower league clubs who often sell their players to higher league teams and if owners are not allowed to invest money for transfers without it being considered a loan, it would cripple the lower leagues of European football.
UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations are a necessity to encourage as it says ‘fair play’ between the clubs under their ruling but there are some points that need to be reviewed so that clubs towards the bottom leagues in Europe continue to receive a large part of their income in transfer fees. To put it simply the $350k that Colchester United received from Mark Yeates’ transfer would not have happened unless Manchester City were allowed to have their owner invest money for transfers, and taking that away from a club such as Colchester United would be unfair.