Financial Fair Play

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UEFA entertaining Financial Fair Play relaxation amid coronavirus difficulties

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With clubs around Europe impacted financially by the coronavirus shutdown, UEFA is considering changes to its Financial Fair Play rules to accommodate those that cannot meet the break-even standards required by the current guidelines.

With the current financial climate and some clubs struggling to maintain a balanced book, clubs may require owner investment to keep the businesses afloat.

“A working group has been set up to look at how club licensing/FFP might need to adapt to take account of the extraordinary challenges that clubs face, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis,” UEFA said to The Associated Press on Tuesday. “The situation is evolving fast and the working group is continuously monitoring the situation with the aim to come to a proposal in the coming weeks.”

Manchester City has been punished for previous Financial Fair Play rules after owner Sheikh Mansour allegedly covered up an injection of cash into the club as sponsorship income. The AP report states that Man City’s case will not be impacted by any changes to FFP since the violations occurred between 2012 and 2016.

However, owner injections could be temporarily overlooked, according to long-standing FFP proponent Javier Tebas who is the president of the La Liga in Spain. “If those people want to invest a lot of money into football … to reduce the debt levels of clubs, well I think that would be studied and I think that could be possible,” Tebas said in the AP report.

UEFA has already pushed back its club licensing deadlines for the 2020/21 season since it is currently unclear when that season will officially begin.

Report: UEFA extends FFP deadline

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Clubs in Europe will have an extra 30 days to prove that they are solvent to UEFA, a report stated in the Athletic UK.

UEFA is reportedly extending the Financial Fair Play deadline from March 31 through April 30 to allow clubs to get their finances in order. The onset of the new Coronavirus across the world has caused a severe shock to the global sporting landscape, and many clubs that counted on monthly income from paying spectators are suddenly not receiving that revenue.

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Though it doesn’t state whether April 30 is the final day to file with UEFA, it’s certainly possible that UEFA can continue to delay their deadlines as the virus continues to keep players off the field.

In England, clubs in the English Football League have started asking the FA and for financial packages to ensure they remain solvent. The financial situation in the lower leagues was already precarious before this situation, and it’s only gotten worse.

UEFA begins Financial Fair Play investigation of Man City

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UEFA has opened a formal investigation into Manchester City regarding a potential breach of Financial Fair Play.

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City was sanctioned in 2014, but that punishment was later eased by UEFA.

From UEFA.com:

The investigation will focus on several alleged violations of FFP that were recently made public in various media outlets.

UEFA will make no further comments on the matter while the investigation is ongoing.

Here is Man City’s statement:

Manchester City welcomes the opening of a formal UEFA investigation as an opportunity to bring to an end the speculation resulting from the illegal hacking and out of context publication of City emails. The accusation of financial irregularities are entirely false. The Club’s published accounts are full and complete and a matter of legal and regulatory record.

Guardiola admits sanctions possible over Man City finances

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LONDON (AP) Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola raised the prospect Friday of soccer authorities punishing the Premier League champions over attempts to circumvent financial fair play rules.

City is leaving Guardiola to field questions about the leaked internal correspondence published by European media outlets, while executives decline comment. The club has not disputed the authenticity of internal messages showing how it used companies linked to the Abu Dhabi ownership to boost revenue in an attempt to curb losses and comply with UEFA regulations.

“If there’s something wrong we’ll be punished,” Guardiola said at a news conference ahead of Sunday’s derby against Manchester United.

City, which has been owned by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour for a decade, was punished by UEFA in 2014 for breaching the “Financial Fair Play” program. The settlement agreement eventually saw the club only forfeit $23 million in Champions League prize money. UEFA this week has not said how aware it was of City’s schemes, reported by German magazine Der Spiegel, to hide expenses and evade monitoring of spending on players.

“At the end, UEFA, FIFA, English federation has to say if we were wrong,” Guardiola said. “If we were wrong (we) will accept it but I hear what my club said to me and I trust a lot of them.”

There was no response to an email sent to three City media officers seeking comment on Guardiola discussing the possibility of the club facing further punishment. City did, however, send an emailed statement announcing a new contract through 2023 for winger Raheem Sterling on Friday.

City has also not responded to questions from The Associated Press about Guardiola’s contract, specifically whether he receives income from entities in Abu Dhabi or other teams owned by Sheikh Mansour. The Football Leaks group published details showing how Roberto Mancini, who managed City from 2009 to 2013 and won the Premier League title in 2012, received more pay from a team Sheikh Mansour owns in Abu Dhabi to work as a consultant than from the Manchester club.

City has faced a week of damaging headlines about its conduct and financial arrangements since the first leaks were published a week ago.

Der Spiegel showed how the team’s holding company – state-backed Abu Dhabi United Group – sent cash to a shell vehicle which was created to supposedly buy the right to use players’ images in marketing campaigns. This helped turn almost $34 million into revenue instead of a cost, for the purpose of UEFA’s investigation of club accounts as the club tried to avoid being banned from European competitions for overspending.

While City said it “will not be providing any comment on out of context materials,” Guardiola was more open to discussing information related to the Football Leaks investigation. Real Madrid was revealed to be working with consultants on a 16-team Super League to kick off in 2021, effectively replacing the Champions League and outside the control of UEFA.

“I would like to know the ideas,” said Guardiola, who is in his third season coaching City. “But, for me, the Premier League, local leagues, are so important, with all the history.”

UEFA re-opens FFP investigation into PSG

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Paris Saint-Germain thought they were in the clear, but UEFA has re-opened its investigation into the oil-rich Ligue 1 club.

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After previously clearing the club of breaking financial fair play (FFP) rules in June, UEFA said in July that it would follow up by looking deeper into the findings of the Club Financial Control Body (CFCB). Upon doing so, UEFA announced this week that it would be handing the case back to the CFCB “for further investigation.”

UEFA’s statement read as follows on Monday:

“Following the decision of the chief investigator of the CFCB to close the investigation into Paris Saint-Germain, and the subsequent decision of the CFCB chairman to send it for review by the CFCB Adjudicatory Chamber, the latter decided on Sept. 19 to refer the case back to the CFCB Investigatory Chamber for further investigation.”

The majority of the investigation likely focuses on the transfers of Neymar ($262 million) and Kylian Mbappe ($208 million, via loan) in the same summer. Whether or not the club can show enough income to cover its massive transfer fees — the two largest in the history of the sport, in this case; not to mention, the legitimacy of various revenue streams — has been a murky ongoing plot since Qatar Sports Investments bought the club in 2011.