Fatuous fraud Platini – FFP!

UEFA bureaucrats – the money men who regulate European football and, fair to say, a right set of continental bankers – have battered the newly crowned Champions of England into submission…or have they?

At first glance Manchester City have incurred the wrath of the despot Michel Platini and had their backside spanked.

We Are The Champions -but UEFA don't like Manchester City! Courtesy @MCFC

We Are The Champions – but UEFA don’t like Manchester City! Courtesy @MCFC

Much to the delight of the likes of Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid, even those Euro competition non-starters from Trafford Borough – all historical members of the self-styled, and even more self-centred G14 cartel, UEFA have attempted to flex their muscles on the sky blue side of Manchester.

A £49m fine, a reduction in the size of City’s Champions League squad for next season, constraints on this summer’s transfer budget, a salary cap and specific stipulations on any operating losses for the next two years, would appear to give credence to UEFA taking a hard line.

Closer scrutiny might suggest otherwise.

Michel Platini - this man does not want Man City winning this trophy anytime soon!

Michel Platini – this man does not want Man City winning this trophy anytime soon!

Disappointingly in some ways, City have elected not to go the whole 9 yards and challenge the fundamental validity of Financial Fair Play. Both by name and by nature, FFP is a contradiction in terms.

Back in the mists of time Napoleon Platini/Michel Bonaparte (either way, a power-crazed dictator) unveiled a UEFA master plan to safeguard the integrity, essence and existence of football clubs under its jurisdiction.

The blueprint was designed to stop unscrupulous owners driving their clubs into the dirt, fast-tracking them to oblivion with reckless spending, mismanagement and placing self interest before the needs and desires of the greater good e.g. the club, its employees, supporters and the community it served.

Simply the best - Vincent Kompany and Sheikh Mansour. Courtesy @MCFC

Simply the best – Vincent Kompany and Sheikh Mansour. Courtesy @MCFC

Portsmouth is a prime example, Leeds United another, of clubs who went to the brink of extinction, ‘mortgaged’ up to the hilt, debt-ridden and ready to drop off the proverbial precipice.

On that inherently ‘pure’ premise, FFP might, just might have had merit, but if such good intentions were ever the motivation, they were quickly obliterated by the avarice of those who gorged themselves at European football’s high table.

Prima facie FFP appears flawed in that it represents a restraint of trade under European competition law. It’s difficult to imagine any other ‘industry’ where an owner or third party is effectively prevented from investing in a company.

Together - This is how it feels to be City, so the hell with UEFA. MP & Zaba celebrate the title win. Courtesy @MCFC

Together – This is how it feels to be City, so the hell with UEFA. MP & Zaba celebrate the title win. Courtesy @MCFC

Likewise, how can it be right that employees i.e. Manchester City footballers, are prevented from exercising their right to work? This will be the case with four players who would otherwise have been named in the 2014/15 Champions League squad.

Whether FFP will yet be successfully challenged through the courts remains to be seen. Whereas UEFA might be privately relieved, if not to say smug, over their authority not being challenged by Sheikh Mansour’s legal eagles, it doesn’t mean they have a free pass in perpetuity.

For now, City – owned by Abu Dhabi royalty and confronted with European dictators – have delved into the realms of a great British concept, that of compromise, to navigate their first FFP spat.

Compromise - City Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak objected to UEFA putting City in the same category as PSG. Courtesy @MCFC

Compromise – City Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak objected to UEFA putting City in the same category as PSG. Courtesy @MCFC

Despite the club’s understandable outrage at being lumped in the same category as PSG – the Qatar-backed French champions who have made negligible attempts to comply with FFP – City made a cool, calm and collected assessment of their position, reflective of the manner in which Sheikh Mansour conducts his business.

Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak was reportedly livid that, having been led to believe City had actually done enough to appease the UEFA jobsworths, the regulators moved the goal posts at the 11th hour and did the dirty on the club.

City’s response has been dignified and quietly defiant. UEFA can indulge in a bout of peacock-strutting, self importance, but ultimately the Etihad ‘project’ continues to chart a steady course.

Dignity - Manuel Pellegrini personifies the way in which Manchester City conduct themselves. Courtesy @MCFC

Dignity – Manuel Pellegrini personifies the way in which Manchester City conduct themselves. Courtesy @MCFC

The £48.86m fiscal penalty could be reduced to as little as £17m if City deliver on undertakings in 2013/14 and the following season.

The punitive measure is not set against any future FFP checks and, in reality, Sheikh Mansour won’t miss what amounts to pocket change for the multi-billionaire.

City have been set new fiscal targets to hit for the financial years ending in 2014 and 2015 which are tighter than the standard FFP requirements. Perversely, there is an upside in that the losses of the previous two years, which would otherwise have been factored in, will now be set aside. City are confident of hitting the new ‘bespoke’ UEFA targets comfortably.

Hitting the target - Just as Aguero hits the target onfield, City's hierarchy are confident of hitting financial targets off the pitch. Courtesy @MCFC

Hitting the target – Just as Aguero hits the target onfield, City’s hierarchy are confident of hitting financial targets off the pitch. Courtesy @MCFC

A UEFA imposed £49m net transfer spend this summer is broadly in line with City’s plans and can be supplemented by any income generated from player sales. It shouldn’t impact unduly on Manuel Pellegrini’s acquisition plans.

Home James? - Does Milner want to leave City this summer and create a bigger 'homegrown' headache for the Champions League squad? Courtesy @MCFC

Home James? – Does Milner want to leave City this summer and create a bigger ‘homegrown’ headache for the Champions League squad? Courtesy @MCFC

Transfer speculation is already picking up momentum with claims that City will initiate a mass exodus of their present English players.

Gareth Barry and Joleon Lescott are now out of contract, Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell are likely to be sold, whereas Micah Richards and James Milner, both entering the final year of their contracts, are reported to want to move for more regular starting berths.

Fees for Sinclair, Rodwell, Richards and Milner could top £30m, but it would put the onus on City to find other English/homegrown talent, to meet both Premier League and Champions League criteria of having eight in a 25-man squad.

Don't look back in anger -Is Micah on his way out of the Etihad? Courtesy @MCFC

Don’t look back in anger -Is Micah on his way out of the Etihad? Courtesy @MCFC

Fairness would surely dictate a lowering of the ratio in City’s CL squad which will number 21 and not 25? The 8 in 25 equation should be diluted to a maximum of 7 in 21, possibly even less, but lest we forget this is Platini, this is UEFA and they can’t stomach the prospect of City winning their showcase event too soon.

Of all the sanctions this is the one that will most exercise the grey matter within the Etihad hierarchy. It will also have a bearing on City’s transfer dealings and whether they will feel compelled to buy English, at inflated Premier League prices.

Returning Rodwell - If Jack goes back to Everton could Ross Barkley come to City? Courtesy @MCFC

Returning Rodwell – If Jack goes back to Everton could Ross Barkley come to City? Courtesy @MCFC

Southampton’s Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana and Everton’s  Ross Barkley and Leighton Baines, would all be worthy additions to Pellegrini’s squad, albeit at extortionate transfer fees.  

Alternatively, it could see City’s young talent being prematurely exposed to top level European football, with Karim Rekik, Emyr Huws and Ronnie Lopes among those who could figure in the CL numbers game.

It’s one thing assembling a squad that complies with FFP and competition stipulations, but they need to be paid the going rate.

Under the UEFA judgement, City will not be permitted to exceed the 2013/14 salary total. This can be circumnavigated via sensible base salaries supplemented by large bonuses, based on success.

Everyone's a winner - David Silva & City's star players will be on big bonuses for continued success. Courtesy @MCFC

Everyone’s a winner – David Silva & City’s star players will be on big bonuses for continued success. Courtesy @MCFC

City Chief Executive, Ferran Soriano is implementing this ‘model’ – similar to the one he created at Barcelona during the Catalan giant’s halcyon years. It’s one where bonuses and incentives fall outside the UEFA regulations.

It could of course, have been so much better for City if UEFA hadn’t reneged on what City thought had been achieved and unofficially agreed. That said, it isn’t widely known what UEFA’s original settlement offer entailed.

Have City negotiated to the point where, what would have been deemed totally unacceptable sanctions, have been removed by UEFA?

Magic but no mystery - City are on a ride of enduring success. Courtesy @MCFC

Magic but no mystery – City are on a ride of enduring success. Courtesy @MCFC

Confident that the club is already at a break even point and on the cusp of annual net profits in years to come, City will be free of any UEFA sanctions or restrictions by the start of the 2015-16 season.

Having already taken their place at the high table of European club football, City will remain so, free from the snide, insidious and sanctimonious lobbying of debt-ridden Eurocrats such as Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manure and holier-than-thou, Bayern Munich and their jailed tax-evading President, Uli Hoeness.

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.

The biggest regret of the whole lopsided and ill-conceived affair is that FFP remains intact…well at least for now.

It could all change if a Belgian lawyer, instrumental in the Bosman Ruling of 1995, is successful with a legal challenge on the grounds that FFP places illegal restrictions on the potential earnings of an individual.

Jean-Louis Dupont was a leading protagonist in the landmark case of Jean-Marc Bosman, which established freedom of movement for footballers who – subject to certain criteria – could leave their club at the conclusion of their contract, without their ex-employers being able to demand a transfer fee.

Homegrown - Marcos Lopes is one of an upcoming breed of new talent from City's 'Academy'. Courtesy @MCFC

Homegrown – Marcos Lopes is one of an upcoming breed of new talent from City’s ‘Academy’. Courtesy @MCFC

Dupont, in representing an Italian football agent, Daniel Striani will outline five effects of FFP which he claims are anti-competitive, claiming that the “break-even rule” will restrict investment in clubs; will entrench the existing status quo; reduce the number of transfers and therefore dampen salary levels of players. Ultimately he will argue that it will affect Striani’s own income.

It may seem far removed from the sanctions imposed on Manchester City and will undoubtedly take years for the courts to resolve, but if successful, Dupont would once again be changing the landscape of European football for a second time.

Champion feeling - Samir and Pablo are two time Premier League winners. Courtesy @MCFC

Champion feeling – Samir and Pablo are two time Premier League winners. Courtesy @MCFC

If, as and when UEFA are once again found wanting in the courts, it should be purely academic from City’s perspective – by then City will be ‘in’ with the ‘in-crowd’.

Nonetheless, if they were to remain true to Sheikh Mansour’s entrepreneurial spirit, they could rejoice in witnessing UEFA getting their nose bloodied.

Any system that allows debt-ridden clubs to dictate the rules to efficient, well run and debt free rivals simply cannot and must not be allowed to stand.

Turning dreams into glorious reality. Courtesy @MCFC

Turning dreams into glorious reality. Courtesy @MCFC

As any City fan will testify, their club has and will continue to fulfil the dream in their hearts …it’s only fair that others should not be denied the opportunity because of a process devoid of virtue and riddled with vice.

By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com

@ReadButNeverRed

@djwskyblu

SPECIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT – Sincere thanks to Colin Savage, a fellow blue, for the giving of his time and invaluable insight into FFP.

 

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31 Comments

  1. May 19, 2014  11:23 pm by scott Reply

    I may be wrong here, but as Monaco have not been punished this year, due to not having been on uefas "books" last season (weren't in Europe), isn't the idea of trying to stop another Portsmouth completely invalid as an argument towards uefa's FFP?
    They are plain and simple trying to keep the top at the top.
    I would ( allow me a Kevin keegan moment here) ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!! If this croissant or whatever he is called nullified FFP in a way which made Uefa very red Faced, along with grovelling apology to the clubs they illegal
    fined, begging for forgiveness and hoping we don't take them to court about it!

    • June 4, 2014  7:38 am by David Walker Reply

      FFP is riddled with anomolies that do little or nothing to prevent - as you put it - another 'Portsmouth' situation arising. It is intrinsically flawed and it's high time UEFA & FIFA were subjected to a totally independent audit and assessment because the whole thing is tainted. Who regulates the regulators? The likes of Platini and Blatter are getting away with so much nonsense...absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  2. May 19, 2014  11:34 pm by HeavyRiffs Reply

    Nice piece.

    They can invent as many new rules, trap doors, shady deals as they like, our foot's already in the door and we're here to stay.

    Why has so little been said regarding City's revenue? We've overtaken Arse and it's nothing to do with what others perceive to be a dodgy Etihad deal. Within 5 years, it will be us, the two from Spain, the German Man Utd and the English version, with us climbing on the shoulders of giants each year. As we are now giants...

    • May 19, 2014  11:50 pm by David Walker Reply

      If we end up standing on the shoulders of giants shall we get Noel & Liam to play a reunion set with Oasis? Cheers fella for your comment.

      • May 20, 2014  12:09 am by HeavyRiffs Reply

        It'd only end up in a fight if we did, so get Mario, Joey and Ben Thatcher back in case, just to intervene.

        • May 20, 2014  7:36 am by David Walker Reply

          That could get very Lionel #Messi! If that were the case there's only one man I'd want in my trench...Andy Morrison, a newly appointed City Ambassador and a fighter extraordinaire. Read his autobiography, the man knows what it takes to survive!

          • May 20, 2014  11:14 am by HeavyRiffs

            City recognise those that were blue through and through and sweated blood for us, none more so than Morrison. Great move by the club, he was the reason we came back up two divisions and are the club we are today. Now he was a GIANT!

          • May 21, 2014  1:41 pm by John Evans TT

            David,

            You should be on the beach, instead you're a one man Windmill Theatre,

            Your "It’s difficult to imagine any other ‘industry’ where an owner or third party is effectively prevented from investing in a company "Got to the nub. “It’s like Mercedes trying to retroactively block Tata's takeover of Land Rover, because they injected badly needed working capital, used the latest technology and paid workers more in Birmingham than they get Stuttgart.

            It is of course a 'restraint of trade'. However when City's competitors get involved asking for tougher sanctions, it possibly becomes a 'conspiracy'. Any 'knock on effect' on our New York project it could involve the extradition of Platini and his cronies (plus for good measure the G14) to the good old USofA. I find the thought of those elderly gentlemen picking up soap in a federal prison’s showers, immensely amusing.

            In forcing us to prune dead wood Platini may, in the short term, have done us a favour. Not having to have eight overpaid and overpriced Brits in the squad, surely a blessing in disguise. As for the transfer cap that shouldn't prove too much of a handicap to creative accounts. For example spreading payment over 3/4 years with payment for future international caps etc.etc.

            The supposed wage cap too is a plus. When players and/or the agents coming knocking on the door Soriano has a ready made cop out, “I’d love to pay you more......, but Platini won’t let me, but I can pay you a million pounds bonus if we reach the Champions League Quarter finals”


            As my old china Fred Nietzsche would say "That which does not kill us makes us stronger."

  3. May 19, 2014  11:39 pm by Blue inc Reply

    Brilliant as always! Dave.
    Any system that allows debt-ridden clubs to dictate the rules to efficient, well run and debt free rivals simply cannot and must not be allowed to stand. Truer words have never been written..

    http://31.media.tumblr.com/e3c2457b19af58d589366c007b28dde9/tumblr_mzs36h7IlQ1s2cmkto1_500.png

    • May 19, 2014  11:51 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks for such positive comments.

  4. May 20, 2014  12:40 am by Mark Shaw Reply

    Brilliant piece as always Dave.

    An excellent highlighting of the utterly contemptible posturing of UEFA and the elitist cabal trying to capitalise on an easy target that we as a club are. If UEFA were serious about making it a fair playing field then any punishment that has been levied against us would pale into significance when compared to the likes of such mismanagement at Barca, Real, Manure, Milan and their ilk have perpetrated.

    I'm sure we all don't want to see another Portsmouth or Leeds debacle (Although if it happened to the rags, not a lot of tears would be shed) but UEFA are completely oblivious to the real problems in modern football and FFP will be the death knell if it's allowed to continue unopposed.

    Anyway, thank you for all your work this season, it's been a pleasure to read week in week out and can't wait for next season

    • May 20, 2014  6:54 am by David Walker Reply

      I just couldn't resist the temptation to have a pop at FFP. It's a preposterous notion & it frustrates the hell out of me that the European Comission let's UEFA get away with it. But there again, they all come from the same bureaucratic mould. I hope Dupont ultimately triumphs and we've kept our receipt for a refund as we look down from the moral high ground. Thanks for your support this season.

  5. May 20, 2014  5:33 am by Jim Land Reply

    Another great piece, Dave. There was also one on the Evening News page by the much improved Stuart Brennan.

    http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/financial-fair-play-manchester-city-7137758

    Have you been giving him lessons?
    Thanks for all your good work throughout a wonderful season. I look forward to reading your evaluation of our transfer dealings.

    • May 20, 2014  6:58 am by David Walker Reply

      I hadn't seen the MEN piece - I shall take a look this morning and see how our views differ or are as one. I envy Stuart in that he is able to earn his professional living writing about City - that'd do very nicely for me! thanks for your comment.

  6. May 20, 2014  6:51 am by Pete Lynch Reply

    Thanks as always David. Morally corrupt!

    • May 20, 2014  7:01 am by David Walker Reply

      Cheers Pete - it does beg the question where did UEFA magic up the sum of nigh on £50m? It may be explained in the small print somewhere but the whole thing just stinks the place out. Yes, morally corrupt, but I wonder if it extends further than simply the moral boundaries?

  7. May 20, 2014  7:22 am by JJ Reply

    A good, well written piece Dave - cleverly interspersed photographs to keep the reader's attention! One of the things that rarely gets mentioned in all this is the work that has gone on into the regeneration of the whole area in and around the Etihad. Thousands of people have already made a lot of money from the sale of property and many more benefitted from the new jobs and employment opportunities from the new build programme. This is something that will benefit both the club - on the playing front - and the people of Manchester for a generation or more!
    Sheik Mansour should be applauded for the work being carried out rather than being treated like some infidel who is trying to break this illegal 'running scared' monopoly!

    • May 20, 2014  9:33 am by David Walker Reply

      Agree 100%. HHSM is investing in the future well being of City and the city of Manchester and is penalised by the imbeciles at UEFA. Down the road the debt-ridden Glazers are extracting massive amounts of cash for themselves and doing less than sweet FA for Trafford Borough in downtown Swampsville. It's an absolute freekin DISGRACE!

      • May 20, 2014  11:12 am by HeavyRiffs Reply

        'Down the road the debt-ridden Glazers are extracting massive amounts of cash for themselves and doing less than sweet FA for Trafford Borough in downtown Swampsville. It's an absolute freekin DISGRACE!'

        Weird that, I actually take a lot of comfort from it... ;)

        • June 4, 2014  7:40 am by David Walker Reply

          You're not alone my friend in that mindset.

  8. May 20, 2014  8:39 am by Eileen Fullen Reply

    Here's hoping we will continue to annoy our noisy neighbours and the rest of the corrupt cartel. I was hoping we could celebrate not only Manure makiing the top 4 but Arsenal also. Let's keep annoying and hopefully Dupont will get the desired result and put UEFA to task. Thanks once again.

    • May 20, 2014  9:36 am by David Walker Reply

      We don't have noisy neighbours - they are quiet stay-at-home types who won't even get to go out and play on Thursday nights. Apparently you shouldn't buy success or pay mercernary prices and wages to attract players because you're not the real deal, you're not in Europe...sound familiar? Bloody Manure hypocrites.

  9. May 20, 2014  9:57 am by Doug Henshaw Reply

    Great Read Dave as always. I was so hoping City would challenge Del Boy Platini & his corrupt minions i think we would have won but im not a legal eagle. Wouldn't it be great if City PSG got to final & refused to play the game that would really put the cat among the pigons. Thanks for all your good work through the season.

    • May 20, 2014  10:38 am by David Walker Reply

      Cheers Doug - your MCFC v PSG scenario would be hilarious, but obviously wouldn't happen.

  10. May 20, 2014  3:56 pm by Richard Cooper Reply

    As always a very good article David.
    I have to confess I am struggling to get over excited by this bureaucratic nonsense which only serves to please the vested interests of a chosen few.
    It might have been good to challenge this ruling but I guess that would have kept the whole sorry affair "rumbling" on and on so perhaps the club are correct in "calling time". Let's move on as in the long term City can and should challenge the so called elite of European football.

    • May 20, 2014  8:15 pm by David Walker Reply

      I think it may well come back to bite UEFA on their bureaucratic backside, but, as you say MCFC will go forward relentlessly.

  11. May 20, 2014  7:58 pm by guy Burke Reply

    What's to stop , psg and several others forming their own European super league in defiance of uefa ? Think rumminigge has hinted at this ? Stuff like this happens in sport all the time, remember Kerry packer ... He brought cricket to his knees and the authorities caved in ? And of course or English premier league is another example. Berlusconi took over Milan in Italian serie b and spent the equivalent of billions! But was right wing and white so that made it ok ? The hypocrisy from platini and football in general is staggering!!

    • May 20, 2014  8:16 pm by David Walker Reply

      Totally agree but they seem to be getting away with it!

  12. September 23, 2014  4:05 am by john maddison Reply

    Great Article Dave

    We know, they know ( RM, BM, MU, B) that FFP is just a way of keeping the club closed. However it may actually help us the next 12 months in that other clubs who used to screw us now know there is a limit we can spend. Hence we can walk with good reason ( Such as Barkley and Everton) and expect a call in the near future. Having said that, we seemed to get bent over (I already used screwed) with Mangala until I saw him against Chelsea - Awesome! He should have played at Bayern.

    • September 23, 2014  12:04 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks John - I think we're definitely going back for Barkley because we need homegrown, so we still might end up paying a premium e.g. £5m over the top but because of a very astute transfer policy in the summer, we have the funds no problem. Ward Prowse from Southampton, possibly even Jay Rodriquez could be on the radar as City seek homegrown compliance. The big ticket would be getting Pogba away from Juventus, probably for same price as Barkley, and he'd qualify as homegrown.

  13. July 26, 2015  5:28 pm by Jonathan Bowden Reply

    Ive read an article by Martin Samuel (mail i think) on this dog shit, Hes very clear in that, Certain chairman, he in fact named Burlesconi, Abramovich and the Inter chairman, have told Platini they are sick of spending money and dont want to be overtook so can we stop everyone from spending, its as simple as that, Its the most unfair and unsporting law in any sport ever and does immense damage to the future of the Champions League, How is a club supposed to compete with the elite? This law imo is illegal and will soon be smashed out of existence, utter disgrace

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