Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho claims that since the introduction of the Financial Fair Play rules, it is impossible for his side to compete financially with Manchester City.
The root of the argument is that City exploit loopholes in UEFA’s regulations – Mourinho described it as “dodgy” financial fair play on Friday – making it impossible for other clubs to compete on transfer fees.
“If City want to make it impossible, yes it’s impossible because we are not competing outside what is important for us: the fair financial fair play,” Mourinho said. “We are working, thinking and believing that financial fair play is going to be in practice. So there are things that are impossible for us. Financially, no [we can’t compete].”
For a manager whose club is owned by a Russian billionaire who spent freely upon arriving in West London a decade ago – to the point where many accused the team of buying a title – such statements are laughable.
Mourinho’s response? “Back then it was a free world. There was no financial fair play. If your club was a rich one, your owner a rich one, there were no rules. It was an open situation.”
But times have changed and, from all accounts, Chelsea seem to be ready to play fair in the world of football finances. They were by far being the biggest spenders in England during the January transfer window, Chelsea’s outlay of £45M was covered by the sales of £55M for Juan Mata (to Manchester United) and Kevin de Bruyne (to Wolfsburg).
When asked about City’s popularity compared with that of his Chelsea team during the early 2000s, Mourinho said: “In my time we were accused of buying the title, no? Because our owner was Mr Abramovich, just arrived in the country. Maybe now people see City in a different way.”
While Mourinho did not discuss specific loopholes he believes City to be accessing in UEFA’s regulations, one FFP rule that could apply is Annex X(E), which pertains to “related party transactions and fair value of related party transactions.” The specific provisions of the rule are to ensure that club owners are not able to artificially inflate revenues in order to increase the chances of passing the FFP rules by providing the club with a massive sponsorship deal from one of the owner’s other companies.
City is owned by the Abu Dhabi Group, which was formed as an investment vehicle for the takeover of the club in 2008. The group recently purchased a new MLS franchise, New York City Football Club, and the Australian A-League side, Melbourne Heart, which is expected to soon be rebranded as Melbourne City Football Club.
Coverage of the hotly-anticipated contest between Chelsea and Manchester City begins today at 2:00pm ET on NBCSN.