UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations have been expanded and strengthened with the intention of attracting new investors as well as ensuring financial stability.
The executive committee of European football’s governing body convened in Prague on Monday for a meeting which touched upon on a variety of subjects, including the 2015 edition of its Club Licensing and FFP regulations.
Large losses have been reduced since FFP’s implementation three years ago and on Monday a number of tweaks were voted through – the most substantial of which being the consideration of voluntary agreements to tackle the restructuring of clubs.
Clubs failing FFP are usually offered settlement agreements but the new rules, in force from July 1, allow the Club Financial Control Body, under certain circumstances, to agree voluntary agreements with proactive clubs who come forward regarding a future breach.
It allows clubs to conform with the FFP philosophy while leaving room for them to invest and grow at the same time as
preventing gambling on success – a development that pleases UEFA president Michel Platini.
“The new regulations are an expansion and a strengthening of financial fair play,” he said.
“The overall objectives of financial fair play remain the same. We are just evolving from a period of austerity to one where we can offer more opportunities for sustainable growth and development.”
Under the new FFP rules, voluntary agreement applications would have to be submitted by December 31 of the preceding year, with funds committed in advance and guaranteed over the agreement period.
A plausible and conservative business plan demonstrating break-even compliance by the end of the regime is another requirement, so too a number of assurances over the future stability.
Those competing in UEFA competitions already fulfilling the break-even requirement are eligible to apply, as are those out of such competitions but holding a valid UEFA licence.
Clubs that have undergone an external change of ownership are also eligible to apply, but those that been under a settlement agreement or voluntary agreement within the last three years are not.
UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino hopes the changes will help increase competition, while safeguarding the financial stability of European football.
“We are sure that these new rules will encourage investors to invest in European football because European football is the best product in the world when it comes to club football,” he said.
“One of the things that annoyed us a little bit whilst reading some of these reactions which were wrong we thought but still they said that Financial Fair Play actual hinders or limits the way which investors want to invest.
“Now, we have always said we want investors in football – of course, we want good investors in football.
“We didn’t want and still don’t want people coming to football promising things because we have sadly had cases in many clubs in many countries – this is not an issue for England, for Italy or for France, it is really across the European game. We had people who came who promised a lot of things and perhaps have gone bankrupt.
“We have to build on the strength of Financial Fair Play and we have to look into how we can make investment possible, but with reasonable, sustainable, appropriate guarantees.
“But whatever can be done to make sure the competitive balance of Europe is improved even more, that clubs can maybe retain some players, even invest in new players in order to get some results and generate more revenue.
“We want to move from vicious circle that we had some years ago to a virtuous circle. It is a fair argument to say ’If you want me to improve revenue, I first have to invest something’. That’s a fair argument.
“You can invest something and with investment you can generate more revenue so we bring more clubs to compete at the top table.”