Platini unveils plan for clubs to live within means

MONACO - UEFA president Michel Platini revealed his plans for financial reforms in European football on Thursday which could signal the end of "sugar daddies" buying into the game and transforming the fortunes of a club.

The key to Platini's vision of what he has called "financial fair play" is for all clubs to be made to only spend what they earn in football revenues and he says he has the backing of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and other rich club owners.

The rules, which UEFA is still formulating and which will not be in place at least until 2012, would also mean owners such as Manchester City's Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan would not be able to make huge gifts of cash to their clubs.

The clubs would, according to Platini, "have to live within their means instead."

Platini told a news conference: "We have everyone on board with this, the owners, the players, the leagues, the national associations.

"If a club can get loans from a bank to buy players and is able to pay back bank loans then it is not a problem. But if a club gets a lot of money or subsidies from a big backer and is still in deficit in two years then it is a problem and we don't want that."

Platini added that an independent panel would be set up to judge whether clubs had broken the rules.

"The panel will refer any matter to the disciplinary committee and sanctions will be taken from a reminder to a fine to expulsion from the Champions League," he said.

Many of Europe's top clubs have huge debts, with Real Madrid having an estimated debt of 563 million euros up to the end of the 2007-08 season.

Financial experts have estimated Real's current debt could run to around 900 million euros following their close season spending spree.

Premier League club Chelsea reported losses of 65.7 million pounds up to June last year while Red Football, Manchester United's parent company owned by the Glazer family, recorded a 21-million-pound loss last year and has a total debt of 575 million pounds.


Platini said he had the backing of club owners. "It's mainly the owners that asked us to do something - Roman Abramovich, (AC Milan's) Silvio Berlusconi, (Inter Milan's) Massimo Moratti. They do not want to fork out from their pockets any more," he said.

"I have told Mr Abramovich about this and he said nothing against it." UEFA would also look at losses incurred by clubs' parent companies who have to service loans, said Platini.

Sanctions - if implemented - would depend on the size of a club's losses, said UEFA deputy general secretary Gianni Infantino, who is in charge of the detailed planning process.

He said around 20 clubs had been sanctioned in the past few seasons and not given a UEFA licence because their finances were not in order.

"The potential sanction will have to be in proportion - it will be different if you make a loss of one million every two years or 100 million every year," Infantino said.

He said the new rules would not stop clubs like Manchester City breaking up the domination of the Big Four in the Premier League - as long as they were run on the right lines.

"We think that the opposite will happen because if you have a rich sugar daddy coming in and throwing money around this is unhealthy in the medium and long-term," he said.

"For the club to be healthy it has to live on its own means and generate income and this is not impossible. Clubs have generated revenues by investing in stadiums otherwise it is an artificial bubble which inflates the system and is unhealthy and unsustainable."