Sacre bleu! Platini's Hammer Doth Striketh.

Published: Apr 29, 2014 13:00pm EDT
By Jason Bardwell, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Apr 29, 2014 @ 01:52pm EDT


For those of you who follow my stuff on here about the wonderful world of soccer may remember a couple of weeks ago I had written a piece about the Financial Fair Play (FFP) and the clubs who might be having some sleepless nights about the outcome. Before I continue on I would like to just remind you exactly what is meant by the FFP regulations.


Initially it was proposed that UEFA feared that many clubs were putting their financial futures at risk and stamp out the ‘financial doping’ which, some say, is ruining the game as a whole. Sceptics would say it is nothing other than keeping the European elite safe from challenges from these upstarts like Manchester City and PSG.


When the accounts are looked at it will be the spending of the last two seasons which will be under scrutiny. In this period only losses of around $62 million are permitted, as long as it is proven that the club owners can cover the amounts.


Now in my previous article I had said about my concern that the sides net debts were not being included in the equations but only expenditure versus income. In 2012 Manchester United had a net debt of $615 million but since then have seen their stock on the New York stock exchange plummet after this bad season. Chelsea’s net debt at the same time was $1.5 billion (that’s Billion, with a ‘B’) and Arsenal had the least debt, reporting $165 million.


These clubs were not under scrutiny, but Manchester City in England and PSG in France are two of the clubs who have recently been offered a settlement deal this week although details of the sanctions have not been made public, although we do know what it will not be. Earlier on this week Michel Platini, the UEFA President, came out to say that no clubs would be excluded from European competition this time.


Although some voices said that this was a sign that UEFA had ‘no teeth’ it actually makes sense that punishments should be on a sliding scale, increasing in severity as clubs re-offend. In that regard it would make no sense to ban a club straight off the bat. If the clubs accept the offers then we could know as early as this week what the sanctions are for each club. If the clubs decide to fight it then it could be a much longer process.


Sanctions for City and the French club could include a salary cap or limiting the number of eligible players. Certainly I think both clubs would not blink an eye if it was just a case of writing a check. Transfer embargos, like the one imposed and then reversed, for Barcelona would be another option for the governing body but I believe any such sanction would be fought by the clubs.


The UEFA President will be under the microscope by people on both sides of the arguments but I do have to point out that he has history in this sort of thing during his UEFA tenure, which dates back to 2008. He was a key figure in France getting to host the 1998 World Cup, which they won and moved quickly up the ranks. So far, as UEFA President, he has called for all sorts of novel ideas including caps of wages, spending as a fraction of the club turnover and the 6+5 rule. The last rule would in theory mean that the top flight teams in Europe would include six home grown players and five foreign players. I am not sure how likely that was to be implemented after the European Union voted of the freedom of movement of workers and the right for those workers to be employed, without discrimination.


Platini has had to deal with accusations of bias and an anti English sentiment. He had previously stated he wished to ban Manchester City after what he called their ‘ridiculous’ big-money attempt at capturing Kaka from AC Milan back in 2009. In an interview he said ‘How can a guy cost $200 million. For me it ridiculous - from a football, social and financial point of view’, although Milan did acknowledge they had agreed a bid of $168million for Kaka. Later he claimed Real Madrid’s $135 million capture of Cristiano Ronaldo as ‘normal’ and said ‘if the club has the finances they can do it’.


Sir Alex Ferguson and the Premier League Chief Executive Peter Scudamore have both been critical of his stance on English spending versus that of other European sides, including French side Monaco who was taken over by Russian Billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev. They were soon promoted back to the top division last season and spent over $236 million. The interesting part will be next season, currently second in the French top Division, Monaco will be in a European competition of some sort and will have to show their books to Platini.


Now if Platini does have an anti English bias then I would argue it is nothing to do with the finances of the clubs, although that is a stick to beat them with.


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