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.
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 .
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.”
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.
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