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The Nine FFP Settlement Agreements: UEFA did not go the full nine yards

The UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations have been implemented by UEFA since the season 2011/12 with the aim of encouraging responsible spending by clubs for the long-term benefit of football. However, the enforcement of the break-even requirement as defined in Articles 62 and 63 of the Regulations (arguably the most important rules of FFP) has only started this year. Furthermore, UEFA introduced recently amendments to the Procedural rules governing the Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) allowing settlement agreements to be made between the clubs and the CFCB.  

On Friday 16 May, UEFA finally published the nine separate settlement agreements between the respective clubs and the CFCB regarding the non-compliance with the Financial Fair Play (FFP) break-even requirements. The nine agreements are summarized in the table below:  

Tablewiththeninesettlementagreements.jpg (325.3KB)

Interestingly enough, unlike the other clubs, Manchester City, who had a deficit of €180m in the past two seasons, agreed with the CFCB to have a maximum deficit obligation imposed on them this season already. According to the statement on their website, they are on course to financially break-even by 31 May 2014: “rather than having an accumulative allowance of €30m of losses over the next two reporting years, Manchester City will have specific stipulated allowances for 2013/14 and 2014/15 of €20m and €10m respectively.  Significantly, Manchester City plans to be profitable in 2014/15 and in the years that follow.” 

Official statements by the other clubs express a similar view that the imposed sanctions will not bear negative consequences. For example, PSG got caught by the FFP Regulations due to the overvaluation of the sponsorship deal with QTA. [1] The financial numbers for other clubs are a very well kept secret, in practice it would be highly relevant to know why some clubs had to settle for €60m, others for €12m (FC Zenit), and some for only €200K. Thus, it is of paramount importance that UEFA be transparent and releases the full reasoning and facts leading up to the specifics of the settlements. 

The nine settlement agreements provide for more open questions than answers. For example, why can FC Zenit register up to 22 players for UEFA competitions for 2014/15, when Manchester City, PSG, FC Anzhi and Rubin Kazan are only allowed to register 21?  

Unless a third party decides to challenge the agreements in accordance with Article 16 (2) of the Procedural rules governing the CFCB[2], which is highly unlikely at this stage, we will not get to know more about the reasoning and the factual circumstances of the different cases. Furthermore, we will need to wait for at least another year to get the chance to have the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) pronounce itself on the break-even requirement and the new settlement procedure. Taking into account that the clubs concerned do not appear to be substantially affected by the sanctions, it remains very much unclear whether UEFA’s aim of encouraging responsible spending by clubs for the long-term benefit of football is achieved by the break-even requirement and more particularly by these settlements.

[1] Article 61 (2) of UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations states that the acceptable deviation is €5m

[2] Article 16.2. of the Procedural rules governing the UEFA Club Financial Control Body, edition 2014 foresees that: “Any decision of the CFCB chief investigator to conclude a settlement agreement or to apply disciplinary measures within the meaning of Article 14(1) (c) may be reviewed by the adjudicatory chamber at the request of a directly affected party within ten days from the date of publication of the decision.”

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