It’s something we all know ruins football to an extent, but it’s also something we know keeps football growing worldwide. I’m talking, of course, about money. The game needs money to keep clubs going, to keep sponsors and quite frankly without money there probably wouldn’t be any football in England right now. The Premier League was born and immediately was thrown in the deep end in terms of finance, as Sky Sports and now BT Sports continues to pay big money for the rights to show the Premier League, and then you have the foreign markets thrown in paying ridiculous amounts of money for the rights.
Then you have the foreign businessman buying out the clubs in England. 8 of the clubs in the Premier Leagues are owned by British businessmen, with Tottenham Hotspur being the highest placed team out of the 8, leaving both Manchester clubs, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool with foreign owners.
What really makes this stand out is that most of the top clubs need the big money owners to either maintain their success or even create. When Roman Abramovich bought out Chelsea (despite nearly buying Tottenham), they were building on relative success, whereas Manchester City used their Arab takeover to create their success and essentially build something out of nothing, and I firmly believe that Manchester City will be the last team to do anything like that, until UEFA change their rules on the infamous FFP, short for Financial Fair Play.
On paper, FFP was a brilliant idea, initially thought to stop large amounts of spending and stopping teams going into bankruptcy, like what happened to Portsmouth. Initially, it was seen by some as the biggest thing to happen to football in years, but when you go onto the UEFA website itself and read what they define it as, it is just a massive plan to keep the top clubs in Europe in their place and essentially restrict the “lesser” teams from growing. The UEFA website says that FFP doesn’t allow clubs to spend more than they bring in via revenue, which means that the clubs that bring in the most money like Barcelona and Manchester United can spend absurd amounts of money and remain the top clubs in their respective countries.
So what FFP actually means is that if you are on of Europe’s elite you can essentially get away with spending money, but if you’re just outside the elite bracket, like PSG and Manchester City, then you get the sanctions. For example, Barcelona were found guilty of basically stealing young players for no money, then changing the books to avoid the sanctions, and they get a transfer ban, which does still actually allow them to buy players. They can still sign players and have the deals made official, but they can’t have them apart of the squad until January 1st 2016, which is when the ban is lifted. Manchester City and PSG, on the other hand, had squad places taken away from them, a large fine, and a ban on transfers until July 1st 2015, which has only just ended. What exactly does this show? UEFA need more consistency.
When it was initially seen to be the savior of football finance, FFP has proven to be the one rule that could prevent clubs from growing simply because they don’t have enough money, meaning you need to risk everything to create your brand, then hope that people like the smell of what it is you’re cooking. But to create this brand you need success, and unless you have a tremendous amount of luck, this won’t happen without money. So to create your brand that you need to survive FFP with you need to have success, which in modern football relies heavily on money, money you can’t spend because FFP prevents you from spending a lot of money. It’s an endless cycle that most teams cannot get out of.
FFP looks out for the big clubs in Europe, and stabilizes them as the top clubs for years to come, whereas clubs wanting to be as big as them like Manchester City, PSG and to a lesser extent Arsenal and Athletico Madrid. If you don’t have a large stadium, or charge ridiculous prices for entry, you can’t become elite. That is why Premier League prices are as high as they are, and they wont come down until FFP changed its rules.
Sorry football fans, but FFP is the reason that the league normally has the same challengers, and why the Champions League has had Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid in the Semi Finals for the past 3 years. It’s because UEFA love the elite.