UEFA Financial Fair Rules: In or Out?

It was September 2009 when UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations were first brought in the game to prevent rich clubs spending more money than they earn to lure high profile players. This policy offered a level playing field to clubs who can’t afford throwing millions of dollars to remain in the league. But now, if everything goes as planned, these rules could face the court interpretation as far their legality is concerned. One of the most reputed soccer lawyers Jean-Louis Dupon hints on going to court against these rulings which restrict rich clubs to use their full potentials to buy a player of their choice.

Notably, he is the same man who fought for Jean-Marc Bosman in 1995 and made every player a free agent after expiry of his contracted deal with his existing club. Actually, some sections of FFP are directly in oppose to some European competition laws and this could be the basis of court intervention if Dupont takes this matter to it. At the moment, UEFA has given its consent on new FFP so it is likely to be standing by it, however it also said via a statement that “UEFA is aware, that there are large differences between the comparative wealth of different clubs and countries, but financial fair play does not have financial equality as its objective. However, more investors should be attracted if club football is more sustainable and those clubs with sustainable and stable business models will be in a position to become more competitive.”

On the other side, Dupont recenty wrote an article in a leading newspaper where he talked about the flaws of FFP. He said, “Some of Europe’s biggest clubs are, unsurprisingly, the loudest supporters of rules that entrench their dominance. The time is right for a strong reminder from the EU’s anti-trust authorities that football, like any other multibillion-euro industry, must comply with the law.

“As an agreement whereby industry participants jointly decide to limit investments, FFP likely constitutes collusion and hence a violation of EU competition law. FFP may also infringe other EU freedoms such as the free movement of workers and services.

“Even if FFP were sufficiently legitimate and necessary to justify its distortions of EU principles, however, it would still have to clear a final hurdle: proportionality. UEFA would need to convince the EU’s judges in Luxembourg that FFP is the least restrictive means of achieving its aims. This seems unlikely.”