City fans back legal battle against UEFA Financial Fair Play

Blue-sky thinking relates to creative ideas that are not limited by convention or current beliefs, facilitating the stripping away of barriers, overcoming obstacles and confounding conformity.

It’s a derivation on a theme, but Sky-blue thinking is not a million miles removed when addressing the vagaries and rank injustice perpetrated by the ridiculously titled UEFA Financial Fair Play rules.

If ever there was a contradiction in terms FFP is it.

Legal Eagle - Belgian lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont could yet pose a threat to the legality of FFP.

Legal Eagle – Belgian lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont could yet pose a threat to the legality of FFP.

It’s time for UEFA to be brought to book via the European Commission and a legal challenge through the Brussels’ Court.

Spearheading the action is lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont, the man who was instrumental in revolutionising football when, as part of Jean-Marc Bosman’s legal team in 1995, he changed the transfer landscape and ‘won’ freedom of movement for players.

The bespectacled Belgian is now leading the line against FFP and has been joined in his fight by the Manchester City FC Supporters Club.

Dupont was in Manchester this week to address delegates of the MCFC Supporters Club (1949) and canvas for their backing .

Do you recognise this man? Is it Michel Platini or Napoleon Bonaparte - either way they don't like the English and they  don't play fair!

Do you recognise this man? Is it Michel Platini or Napoleon Bonaparte – either way they don’t like the English and they don’t play fair!

Thus far Michel – or is it Napoleon – Platini (their dictatorial stances are so difficult to separate), has ruled the roost behind a veneer of protecting European football from greedy, unscrupulous owners, shady ‘businessmen’ who would asset strip before discarding the cadaver of a once proud club into the fiscal fires of ruination.

Portsmouth and Leeds United readily spring to mind as ‘victims’ in English football. Platini and his cronies revel in their laughable role as the guardians of the game.

Dupont is on record as saying FFP is indeed a means of preventing those who don’t have money from overspending and putting a club such, as Portsmouth in peril. He counters, however, that there are better ways.

Looking after business - Manchester City Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has performed well in the face of UEFA provocation and the ludicrous FFP rules. Courtesy @MCFC

Looking after business – Manchester City Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has performed well in the face of UEFA provocation and the ludicrous FFP rules. Courtesy @MCFC

What he objects to are the FFP restraints placed on people e.g. Sheikh Mansour, who do have the money and are willing to invest in a club, but are prevented from doing so, even if guarantees were put in place.

Dupont told the assembled MCFC Supporters Club representatives that the main legal challenge to FFP relates to UEFA’s stated necessity that a football club must ‘break even’.

In essence this states that the owner of a club can’t overspend even if it is with their own money – a ruling not in line with EU law.

Simply the best - Sheikh Mansour (right) is a dream owner and Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak an excellent leader for City.

Simply the best – Sheikh Mansour (right) is a dream owner and Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak an excellent leader for City.

Kevin Parker, General Secretary of the Manchester City Supporters Club (1949), endorsed Dupont’s stance: “Our members are consumers of the football product and, it is as such, that they denounce the EU competition law infringements caused by the UEFA ‘break-even’ requirement.

“Far from implementing true ‘financial fair play’ this rule, is in fact a prohibition to invest, that prevents ambitious owners from developing their clubs.”

Kevin stressed that FFP denies any club benefitting in the manner that Manchester City and Paris St Germain have in recent years, thereby protecting the established ‘old school’ elite of European football.

Elite cartel - Lionel Messi's Barcelona are one of Europe's old guard who sit at the top table of UEFA unchallenged...and that's how it will stay with Financial Fair Play rules. Courtesy @MCFC

Elite cartel – Lionel Messi’s Barcelona are one of Europe’s old guard who sit at the top table of UEFA unchallenged…and that’s how it will stay with Financial Fair Play rules. Courtesy @MCFC

“FFP is supported by elitist, self-serving clubs who want to preserve the traditional status quo and prevent other clubs challenging for a place at the top table of European football.

“Unsurprisingly, these clubs are the main sponsors of FFP. By precluding non-elite clubs from additional investment, they secure benefits for themselves and place additional financial pressures on supporters of other clubs, who must pay higher prices to see a lower quality of football.”

Although City would benefit if FFP was either ruled illegal, or at least modified so that healthy guaranteed investment was permissible, there is a strong altruistic element behind the City Supporters Club willingness to back Dupont.

Great return - Manchester City would never have won the Premier League twice in the last three years without Sheikh Mansour's investment. FFP precludes other clubs from enjoing similar good fortune.

Great return – Manchester City would never have won the Premier League twice in the last three years without Sheikh Mansour’s investment. FFP precludes other clubs from enjoing similar good fortune.

The timing of Sheikh Mansour’s takeover at City and the subsequent speed and size of investment, enabled the club to secure a position of fiscal strength and on-field prowess before the FFP shutters came down.

Kevin believes that to deny other clubs and their fans the opportunity to pursue their dreams – in the same manner as City have since 2008 – is just plain wrong.

Jean-Louis Dupont sums it up in one simple analogy: “We don’t want another Portsmouth, but we’re happy with a Manchester City.”

#TrustOurMP

By David Walker

My thanks to Kevin Parker, General Secretary, Manchester City Supporters Club (1949) & Alan Baxter, Secretary of the Audenshaw Branch, for their help in facilitating this article.

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu

26 Comments

  1. September 25, 2014  7:07 pm by Fifthcolumnblue Reply

    Can't we just wait until Liverpool get done before having this travesty thrown out? ;)

  2. September 25, 2014  7:07 pm by S Reply

    In essence and to the point without going into a very long in detail reasoning it was designed and brought in to stop City from encroaching onto their little click of the usual suspects, basically to protect themselves from any encroachment from the elite. Moreover it was this elitist that put the pressure aided and abetted by Platini/ Napoleon to snuff out any chance of City from breaking this cartel of elitist. Moreover it is illegal and was from the outset and they knew it was and is but thought nobody would challenge them and expected to get away with it. I second the movement to go forward to oust this illegal act all together with NO other alternate solution put in place but to scrap it all together and to go back to how it was with NO restrictions what soever of any kind of spending/ investing into Manchester City. Now that is fair play. Also while we are at it a recommendation to Arsene Whinger, concentrate on your own club and not on ours and you might do a little bit better. Good luck with the action group (none needed really but all the same good luck)

  3. September 25, 2014  7:19 pm by Mark Reply

    It's hard to believe, They're is actually fans of this rule. What's not hard to believe, is the fact these supporters happen to be from the Cartel and Platini's crones. Liverpool have now, been told an investigation into their finances has started.

    We'll soon find out if their support for these rules will continue

    • September 25, 2014  8:12 pm by David Walker Reply

      Good point now Brenda and JW Henry are under canvas, rather than being on the outside of the tent doing something unspeakable through the flap! I think FFP will unravel to some degree in the face of legal challenge. UEFA are so arrogant it beggars belief. City might be getting a nice refund in the not-too-distant future.

  4. September 25, 2014  7:33 pm by Gav H Reply

    One important point of order - it should be made clear. Jean Louis did not come to Canvas Supports. He was invited by to attend with me to explain the case and procedure. It would be unethical to for him to canvas support. However I asked to attend to explain why I joined the case and why I thought the supporters club should follow. In doing so I suggested the club might want to invite Jean-Louis . Sorry to be picky but its an important point to note.

  5. September 25, 2014  7:54 pm by Mark Shaw Reply

    I hate to be cynical when it comes to the European Commission and UEFA (Actually, that's a barefaced lie, I love being cynical) but if the EC rule against UEFA I will bare my arse in Woolies window. It's one cabal looking after another and I very much doubt they'd let things like Law get in the way.

    I'm not entirely sure the Brussels court case will have any sway either if they come down against UEFA.

    What I find hilarious though is the Liverpool fans who gave it out in spades when City were fined over FFP and as it turns out are now under investigation themselves for breaching those same rules. Isn't Karma a bitch?

  6. September 25, 2014  8:17 pm by David Walker Reply

    Brave talk Mark...Woolies have shut up shop! ;-)

    I've said for a while that Liverpool's losses wouldn't pass FFP scrutiny - Fraudulent Financial Practices - that's what UEFA should call it, as they dish City's money out to other competing clubs, it makes me sick and just compounds the corruption. All power to Jean-Louis Dupont!

    • September 25, 2014  8:24 pm by Mark Shaw Reply

      Haha I may look daft but don't let my veneer of stupidity fool you :-)

      Apparently Liverpool are likely to get away with it as they can write off tens of millions of pounds due to Tom Hicks repeated failure to redevelop Anfield, which is frankly ridiculous. I fully back the Supporters Clubs stance and the more clubs who join in the better but as you can probably tell, I don't hold out much hope of FFP being consigned to the annals of history.

      • September 25, 2014  11:13 pm by David Walker Reply

        But of course, Liverpool are obviously the victims of the piece, why on earth would any right minded soul think anything different? I am more hopeful that FFP, or at least some key elements of FFP, will be found wanting. Who knows Napoleon Platini could be metaphorically blown apart (can you see what I did there ;-) ) if FFP goes pear shaped on his watch...you know that £16k job from Brazil ;-)

  7. September 25, 2014  9:46 pm by Gav H Reply

    Couple of points. In every case so far the European Supreme Court have always come down in favour of "the little guy " ie Bosman and a techinical case regarding the G14.

    As for holding sway if the case is upheld then it means FFP prevents investment and is anti competive which is illegal in the EU. Not only is it illegal it is one of the most serious "crimes" . UEFA will have no choice but to be bound by it. The break Even rule will have to be dropped.

    The Judge in the Brussels case should have no choice to consider the case thoroughly effectively there are now 15000 complainants

    • September 25, 2014  11:10 pm by David Walker Reply

      JLD is as good a man as any to put UEFA on it's knees. Let's hope it happens and it doesn't take too long to show FFP up as the farce we know it to be.

  8. September 25, 2014  10:01 pm by Toby Teasdale Reply

    I am not sure if this is simply a European thing. After all City are now a global company with a $100m presence in USA. Yanks can be very aggressive if they think European action is damaging a US enterprise as I imagine New York City and Fenway are. American anti trust laws are much older than their European equivalents, which were only introduced after the second world war.

    In the United States, the Clayton Act authorises private persons and entities injured by violations of the antitrust laws to sue and ‘‘recover threefold the damages sustained’’. The Clayton Act gives standing to ‘‘any person who is injured in his business or property
    by reason of anything forbidden by the antitrust laws’’.

    Could be expensive for Napoleon Solo and his co conspirators. If Uefa is found to have breached US anti trust laws through FFP, Platini could well end up in pokey. If that happened I'd crack a bottle of Champagne and ship him a crate of shower Gel, printed with instructions 'Don't drop the soap'.

    • September 25, 2014  11:07 pm by David Walker Reply

      You seem very well versed in such matters TT,I bow to your greater knowledge. It was all going so well until you mentioned the Man from UNCLE. Does Platini have an Aunt called Fanny?

  9. September 25, 2014  11:40 pm by Susan Bookbinder Reply

    Intelligent and entertaining - a rare combination makes for a damn good read - always... love your work, David and look forward to your incisive and prolific analysis again and again.

    • September 26, 2014  7:01 am by David Walker Reply

      Thank you for your generous feedback, glad it hit the mark. More importantly, let's hope the legal challenge succeeds and the idiocy of FFP is banished as soon as possible.

  10. September 26, 2014  1:40 am by Simon Dear Reply

    I was really looking forward to the day that Melbourne sign Messi and New York City sign Ronaldo and then loan them to little old Citeh thus circumventing the dodgy FFP rules, no doubt after SUPER FRANK ( yes that 36 year old world beaters exploits) then UEFA will be creating another law soon. Football is such a global brand now I just can't see how FFP can be legal, put simply , is the man on the street not allowed to buy an empty shop , invest his retirement fund or inheritance and build a business and go head to head with competitors ? .
    I am no business man but it seems pretty clear cut to me.

    • September 26, 2014  7:05 am by David Walker Reply

      You're absolutely right Simon, in what other line of business could you possibly envisage a scenario where investors are actually banned from investing for the betterment of an organisation, securing and creating employment, regenerating geographical regions and making a full and valid contribution to the community in which it operates. Only in the mad mad world of Michel Platini!

  11. September 26, 2014  1:31 pm by Richard Cooper Reply

    I have used the "empty shop" scenario as illustrated by Simon when arguing FFP with certain (complacent arrogant and know it all) friends of a different persuation.
    We live in a free market economy, and be that right or wrong is a matter of political opinion, but that is how it is and a ruling that only self serves an elite cartel cannot be correct.
    My cousins and their children are and always have been avid Leicester fans. For teams on that level even if they were to attract major investment will be restricted and couldn't achieve the level our club have - "Dare to Dream", I think not.
    I only used Leicester as a hypothetical example
    The other part of this ruling that leaves a sour taste is the distribution of the fines. As I understand it, and correct me if I am wrong David, this will go to the already establihed clubs at the European "top table"
    Surely if UEFA want to show they have the best interests of football at heart, the fines should be disbursed amongst the lower level clubs, such as Macc Town, for example, who most likely financially struggle

    • September 26, 2014  1:36 pm by David Walker Reply

      That's right RC - UEFA decided the best thing to do was give City's initial £17m fine to the likes of Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Chelsea etc - it beggars belief. If JLD succeeds in destroying FFP I wonder if the prat Platini would go back, beret in hand to ask the cartel for our money back. Alternatively he might have a drawful of watches he could sell to raise funds.

      • September 26, 2014  2:02 pm by Richard Cooper Reply

        A case of "Watch this Space" - don't think gifts are going anywhere soon

        • September 26, 2014  3:23 pm by David Walker Reply

          No, apparently he's going to keep his latest and gift the equivalent value to charity. Question for Napoleon - would that be the bulk buy £5,000 approximation or would it be the £16,000 retail value? I think we know the answer...

  12. September 26, 2014  3:16 pm by Doug Henshaw Reply

    Still think City should of challenged Uefa in the courts im no lawyer but i sure we could won. FFP just does not make sense for me its rubbish.

    • September 26, 2014  5:30 pm by David Walker Reply

      There are different ways of winning the war depending on how you choose your battles. If Dupont wins, everybody but UEFA and the European cartel of clubs, wins. City would benefit without having to be the ones who are singled out for 'special' treatment from UEFA whenever they get the chance to do us harm. Who knows who might be bankrolling any legal challenges? There might - just might - be an element of stealth involved?

  13. September 28, 2014  11:19 am by GeorgeInIsrael Reply

    If FFP wasn't in place, Southampton could have kept all their players this summer,bought in a few to strengthen the team and mounted a serious challenge for a European place. Instead, they had to have a clearance sale. Platini might have been an excellent footballer, but he doesn't have a clue about things financial.

    • September 28, 2014  1:29 pm by David Walker Reply

      True, but Platini knows when he has a £16,000 watch and might be able to swing keeping it by giving a £5,000 donation to charity. Who could possibly think that UEFA & FIFA are corrupt to their rotten core?

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