Uefa has commissioned an analysis of the finances of around 700 clubs that are in or might be in European competitions now or in the near future. The report shows that player salaries have gone up by 43% in the last five years, and that club income is not in any way keeping up with this trend.
This exercise in analysis is being led by a former prime minister of Belgium as part of the financial fair play regulations, through which clubs will be refused permission to enter competitions if they continue to make massive losses.
The FFP has already had an impact on some clubs (Portsmouth were refused entry into the Europa League after winning the FA Cup) while many others (particularly in Spain) are being told they will not be allowed entry to the European competitions until they get up to date with money they owe the state and other clubs.
In his 2011 report, Plantini said, “Numerous football clubs, including some prestigious ones, have experienced severe financial difficulties, leading to top division clubs’ aggregate losses increasing again. Keeping costs under control and within sustainable limits is and will continue to be the clubs’ biggest challenge.”
Arsenal of course are not caught out by any of Uefa’s new regulations, because they make a profit most years. But as the report shows the growing losses have affected huge numbers of clubs across Europe.
The 10 largest loss-makers now have combined deficits of an insane €856 million.
Uefa has already bent its own rules to accommodate pressure from some of the big debt ridden clubs and now allow teams to have a maximum loss of €45m as long as the deficit is covered by an equity contribution, over two years at the moment, and three years in the future.
If we look back to financial results from 2009, 2010 and 2011, 14 of the teams playing in Europe this year had losses over the €45m limit. Another 32 clubs had losses of between €5m and €45m.
So who could be in trouble? we may well ask.
Well, Manchester City, Inter Milan and Paris Saint-Germain are at the top of the list. Man City and PSG are now trying to cover their tracks with fancy sponsorship deals from their owners but Uefa is saying, “no dice”.
PSG alone has spent more than $350 million in the transfer market over two years and shows no sign of stopping.
This is going to be the point at which Uefa resolve is tested. The PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi told L’Equipe last month. “Other clubs have invested for 20 years. We have been there for a year and a half and now we must stop pouring money? It would be unfair.”
Man City gets £350 million pounds from the club’s sponsor/owner. PSG will get €200m a year from Qatar Tourism Authority which is closely linked to the club owner.
For Arsenal the level playing field cannot come fast enough. If Man City and Chelsea are hit hard, then the look of the top part of the Premier League table is going to be incredibly different, and players will be leaving those two clubs like mad.