Recently, Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain, bankrolled by Middle East Investors, appeared to have broken UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations and have been bandied around and slated as defaulters as a result of their relentless quest to permanent members of European football’s affluent elite. UEFA, the European football’s governing body, has made its first rulings based on club accounts from the past two seasons – 2011/2012 and 2012/2013, and clubs are expected under this monitoring period to have at most €45m in losses as long as club owners could cover such amounts. Manchester City, who have franchises in both the United States and Australia, posted combined losses of €149m for the last two seasons and have so far been struggling to ensure they develop a new financial model that would conform to the FFP regulations and now they question why rivals are allowed to carry huge debts. The Guardian, recently said: ‘‘Both clubs (Manchester City and PSG) have long argued that because their losses are covered by cash from their owners, whereas rivals such as Manchester United and Real Madrid are allowed to continue to carry large debts, the rules are unfair.’’
Though Manchester United have not fallen foul of the FFP regulations, on paper, the club is run at a profit. They are said to be in debt of about £350m as a result of a deal that saw the Glazer family take over the club in 2005. Under the existing FFP tests, Manchester United has sailed through but now, UEFA seems to be on the verge of extending its radar to clubs with accumulation of debts. According to the Telegraph, ‘‘United have sailed through UEFA’s existing tests, which focus exclusively on preventing clubs recording annual losses. But European football’s governing body has arranged a meeting on Monday to discuss potential tweaks to the regulation, amid criticisms it punishes over-investments but not accumulation of debts.’’ This would be interesting news for Paris Saint Germain (PSG) and especially the highly critical Manchester City, whose chairman, Khaldoon al-Mubarak, who has defended City’s financial model by saying: ‘‘We have zero debt. We don’t pay a penny to service any debt. For me that is a sustainable model. However, our friends at UEFA seem to believe otherwise.’’
Fairness in judgement demands and supports the saying that ‘what is good for the goose is good for the gander’. On that note, it would only be fair for UEFA to pay more attention to clubs like Manchester United and Real Madrid as they truly seem to be at an advantage in the previous tests of the FFP for the last 2 seasons, at the expense of their rivals. If the idea behind the rules is to ensure that football is about self financing and preventing the billionaire-owned football clubs from taking over affairs of football with their monies from other sources than football, then attention must be paid to other big spenders like United and Madrid too. To regulate finances of football clubs and to check the health of a football business, the debts accrued, other than the concept of self financing should also be put into consideration.
Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain were very cautious in the just shut summer transfer window, so as to survive the murky waters of the FFP rules while advantaged Manchester United and Real Madrid went on a shopping spree with approximated £150m and £100m fees on signing players respectively.