Worried UEFA to put brakes on reckless spending

BERNE - With half of Europe's leading clubs losing money and more than 20 percent facing huge deficits, UEFA is set to call time on their lavish spending.

On Thursday, the executive committee of European football's governing body is expected to approve new financial regulations which will ultimately throw clubs out of European competition who consistently do not operate within their means.

President Michel Platini's "Financial Fair Play" plan, approved in principle last September and fine-tuned by former Belgium Premier Jean-Luc Dehaene, would come into force in 2012 and impel clubs to break even over a three-year period.

The rules will not affect domestic leagues, which fall under the responsibility of national associations but clubs that do not conform could ultimately be excluded from European competition.

UEFA said this week that there would be exceptions where losses happen because a club is building a new stadium or investing money in a youth academy.


The new policy is not just aimed at the big clubs with rich benefactors but also stopping smaller ones spending recklessly in an attempt to try and join the big fish.

"We're not trying to level the playing field," said a UEFA spokesman. "We want to make sure that the middle-ranked clubs don't go spending millions which they don't have as they try to compete with the big clubs."

"The underlying principle is that clubs cannot repeatedly spend more than their generated revenues."

The European Clubs Association (ECA), which includes all of the continent's biggest clubs, has supported and agreed to the proposals.

UEFA has become increasingly alarmed at the financial situation of the continent's clubs.

Portsmouth became the first Premier League club to go into administration earlier this season and have debts of more than 119 million pounds.

They were docked nine points by the Premier League and were eventually relegated after finishing bottom of the league.

They are not the only club in the world's most followed football league where spending far outbalances their income.

In an interview with Reuters in March, general secretary Gianni Infantino said that a UEFA report had analysed 650 clubs all over Europe and found that half were making losses every year, with 20 percent losing more than 20 percent of their revenue.

Platini said recently that financially responsible clubs had been at a disadvantage on the playing field.

"The many clubs across Europe that continue to operate on a sustainable basis are finding it increasingly hard to co-exist and compete with clubs that incur costs and transfer fees beyond their means and report losses year-after-year," he said.

"For the health of European club football, those many clubs that operate with financial discipline and sustainable business plans must be encouraged and this is why the entire football family requested and expressed full and unanimous support for the principles of financial fair play."

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