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Published on April 30th, 2014 | by Daniel Riordan

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“How is Financial Fair Play fair?” – Daniel Riordan

The topic of Financial Fair Play (FFP) has risen once again this week, with it being reported that City, along with many other clubs, have been given a settlement from UEFA over their alleged breach of conduct regarding the Financial Fair Play rule. FFP, which was first agreed in 2009 to prevent clubs spending more than they earn in the pursuit of success and by getting themselves into financial problems. All that to me seems to be one of the biggest contradicting, hypocritical rules ever to be brought into the game and in this blog, I’m going to explain why.

There’s benefits and disadvantages to the FFP rule. The benefits is that it prevents clubs spending over what they have. For example, Bolton and Cardiff are two examples that have spent more than what they have, resulting them in huge amounts of debt. You can even go as far down as Portsmouth. But that brings it down to the owners surely. So to start it off, as I said above it was brought in to prevent clubs spending more than they earn in pursuit of success. If we want to talk business terms, which the sport is repeatedly clichéd with, if you’re the head of a business and you want to expand it how do you? You invest. Should your business be close to going out of the window, you sell. These two elements were put into place with City.

In 2007, we were took over by Thaskin Shinawatre. Regardless what he had in his past and fore-coming future, he invested in the club but his assets were then frozen. He had been the stepping stone to what we have today. He had an insight to the club and because he knew he wasn’t going to get anywhere with it he pitched it to the Arabs. They, who were looking at the likes of Liverpool and Everton, sought the idea of investing in City because everything was there. There was a new stadium built which is owned by the council and by paying a rent it’s minimal in comparison to clubs that own their stadium. And also there was a huge plot of land around the area which is also in the interest as you only have to see what’s being built now to see that. The Arabs came in and wiped debts of up to £305 million and invested in the club.

One of the reasons why fair play came about and why it’s so heavily linked with City was because of Mark Hughes. It’s not just necessarily with City why he’s a factor but in general when he’s been at a club with a high budget. He brought in pointless players such as Jo for £19 million, Roque Santa-Cruz for £17.5 Million and Tal Ben-Haim for £8 million just to name a few. When he was given that money he didn’t think smart or go to assemble a team. It’s a similar thing when he was at QPR, he was at a club that has money there. Now in comparison to those jobs you look at the Blackburn job and the current Stoke job and he’s doing brilliantly, why? Because he’s not on a high budget, he’s using his man management skills and he’s getting the best out of his current players.

It’s strange that UEFA ordered the fair play rule in the first place because it’s in effect telling the owners that they’re not allowed to do anything with the money they’ve earned. Well, it’s not strange but it doesn’t seem right. Obviously because I’m a City fan I would say that but what it’s done to the club is unbelievable and if anything shouldn’t UEFA enforce it? If football is a global sport with equal opportunities shouldn’t they be inviting the rich to invest in clubs? A new European competing in Europe which is getting fans around the world interested in because it goes away from the typical “top 4” of the past 10 years or so. Since I started watching City 10 years ago, I’ve seen them go from 16th to competing at the top. Winning a couple of trophies along the way too and it’s only going to expand, tell me that’s not beneficial to the club.

Understandably you get some owners who are perceived to not have a clue. Sven Goran-Eriksson was quoted saying that about Shinawatre. But the one that stands out is Cardiff. It’s evidently clear how much of a joke Vincent Tan is and he’s paying the price. Sacking Malky Mackay at the beginning of the season who had assembled the team and getting them up to be thrown away for no reason what so ever and bring in a guy with no managerial experience in the league, it serves him right. Not the fans right, just him with the club.

Hull’s owner Asseem Allam, is another owner that has been under scrutiny. It is a bit silly to change the name to Hull Tigers and he sees this as reaching out to Asia but to be fair he’s done the job in a sense. He’s provided funds and now they’re in an FA Cup final. It’s just pathetic the way he’s gone around wanting to change it. So what should be done to prevent owners coming in and ruining clubs? Is it down to the FA? UEFA? Who? Well it looks like it’s started to be taken into consideration with the Leeds takeover with the FA ruling it out, however I’m not sure what the current situation is now.

You only have to look at other clubs in comparison to City to see how our owners have gone about their business. Injecting money which isn’t beneficial to them as the top priority but to the club, area and fans. They did the stadium facilities up, they’re expanding it and there’s not been one scenario where they have disrespected the club.

The big news this week which goes to the opening sentence of this blog is that we’ve received “settlements”. Should this be most likely a fine, it’ll be nothing with the wealth. It’s also reported that they may implement a rule where there’s a wage cap in the Champions League where players over an amount won’t be allowed to play. Well doesn’t that go against the global game?. It’s the competition where you get to see Europe’s best players come to your ground or witness in general on TV. I’m still in awe I’ve been 10 meters away from Lionel Messi. It also becomes quite unfair on the sport as it’s not the players who asked for the wages (maybe in some circumstances) but in general it’s the clubs that offer them. But should this be brought in, does that mean half of Barcelona’s or Real Madrid’s team won’t be allowed to play? Their wages are far more substantial than ours. The news has just come out about this on the MEN’s website.

You can sense the bitterness on fans with the club. BBC Sport put a link on their Facebook page the other day and the comments were unbelievable. “Ban them !” urges one, “points deduction” demands another. The thing is, our owners are not dumb. They’re not clueless to let this go. From my perspective, we won’t get fined. If UEFA attempt it, we already have lawyers in place who will hold it out for another 10 years and will just keep it recurring. FFP is a huge contradiction. If you’re a team like Coventry or Portsmouth who want to get back into the top flight after being took over, you can’t because you will work against your revenue. Even a team far further down than that. Let’s look at a team like Stockport County who should be higher than where they are, if they go invested and the owner has plans to get them higher, how do they? They couldn’t.

It’s evidently clear that UEFA just want the G14 clubs at the top and nobody else. Fact. When Platini came out last week and said “he didn’t think there were any issues at PSG” it tells you that alone where his priorities lie. Just before I conclude this. I had a response on the BBC Sport from a guy called Mark Thomas who said “Got a point but you cant argue that without those rich men your club wouldn’t exist at the top. You’re not spending what you earn, you’re spending what you was given. Big difference between working for the money and being given a fat cheque from a rich man.” It’s the ignorance of other fans that gets me that did no other club spend to get to the top?

You have to spend to get to the top. Chelsea have done and still do it, United have done and will carry on to, maybe changing their philosophy now with spending all at once, Arsenal have, Blackburn did, Newcastle did but failed. It’s so fickle to think City have just out of the blue done it without these clubs already doing it. Where does Monaco’s revenue come from? A stadium with 4,000 season ticket holders or PSG for that matter? The club is getting all over the place in the States, Australia, Asia, everywhere. If you really want to get into the corruption FFP one of the area’s Real Madrid gets their money is through the government. The country is in turmoil yet they receive so much to spend freely. So when Racing Santander played Real Sociedad and refused to play because they weren’t getting paid after 6 months, how is that fair in Spain? It’s not.

Only time will show what will happen and it’s more than likely in the coming weeks. All of what I’ve written above may prove to be rubbish but it’s the facts. I can only reiterate what this investment has done to the club and any other club in the country would of loved this opportunity. Everything was set in stone for the investment and it’s only still the start. Khaldoon Mubarak was quoted saying they’re not there for the short term, they’ll be there for another 20/30 years before anything.

– Daniel Riordan (Guest Writer)

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