UEFA, in a much-touted move on Thursday, moved to adopt new rules to monitor club finances in order to solve the competitive imbalance in European club football, especially in the UEFA Champions League.
The Champions League has been dominated by the wealthiest clubs in football since the turn of the millennium, and this has been a cause of concern for the European football governing body. Over the past decade, the most unlikely club to reach the final of Europe’s most prestigious club football tournament was Tottenham Hotspur.
This led to the creation of Financial Fair Play rules which UEFA have used to check the spending of wealthy clubs in their domestic leagues, with a move to affect the Champions League. However, many loopholes in the rules have been exploited by the wealthy clubs, with not much changing in the scope of the way football is administered in Europe.
This has led the European football body to dump “fair play” and replace the rules with “Financial Sustainability”, effective June 2022.
Explaining the reasoning behind the change of name, UEFA project leader Andrea Traverso said: “Competitiveness cannot be addressed simply by financial regulations. This is why we changed the name.”
Traverso also noted that over time, the name “Financial Fair Play” had been misinterpreted to mean that UEFA had created “a level playing field” for all clubs.
The new rules have reportedly been presented to various leagues across Europe before Thursday, with the Spanish football league management praising the rules for plugging the loopholes in the former one (currently in use) and “restricting the ability of state-owned clubs to commit financial doping.”
The biggest change in the new rules will see clubs limited to spending 70% of their revenue on salaries and transfers or face financial and – eventually – sporting sanctions. All changes with regard to this rule are expected to be final by 2025.
Clubs who fail to effect these changes two years after their first sanction will be barred from selecting certain players in UEFA competitions, have points deducted or be banned from a UEFA competition altogether.
Traverso noted that the new rules will be very harsh and will surely make clubs change the way they spend. He said: “The deterrents are there. As from a certain moment (clubs) would be so harshly penalized that I think it would be quite dissuasive.”
UEFA will also evaluate all commercial deals done by clubs from June when the new rules go into effect.