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UEFA ‘Rules suspended’

PULSE
By | March 4th 2010

MANCHESTER

Europe’s top clubs have won concessions from UEFA over the implementation of new rules designed to tighten up football’s finances, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said on Tuesday.

Rummenigge, the chairman of the European Club Association (ECA) and chief executive of Bayern Munich, said they had persuaded UEFA to delay the full implementation of the financial fair play rules from 2012 to 2015.

UEFA will assess clubs’ finances over a rolling three-year period to ensure they comply with their new Financial Fair Play rules before they are allowed to take part in the Champions League or Europa League.

A UEFA proposal that only clubs with a turnover of 50 million euros should be subjected to the rules has been opposed by the ECA who say all clubs should be treated the same.

Rummenigge said at the Soccerex business convention that 93 clubs from 53 countries had attended the ECA’s General Assembly in Manchester and were unanimously agreed on the proposals.

"This really is a huge achievement," he said.

Shaping the future

"After only two years of existence, the European Club Association has managed, together with UEFA, to set measures that will shape the future of European Club football into a more responsible business and ultimately a more sustainable one."

The main points of agreement are that clubs must break-even over a three-year period with a limited equity injection which means that a rich owner has to have an equitable stake in a club rather than loaning it vast sums of money.

Clubs will not be able to owe each other money, nor will they be allowed to compete in Europe if it has not paid either its players or non-playing staff.

Transition Period

There will also be a phased implementation over five years with a transition period going from 2012 to 2015, which will allow clubs in all sorts of different situations to adapt.

The clubs also discussed a proposal to limit their squads to 25 players with unlimited under-21 players per team at national and European level.The ECA also agreed proposals to tackle the amount of money paid out to agents.

David Gill, the chief executive of Manchester United and an ECA board member, told a news conference that despite United’s owners having debts of 716.5 million pounds, United would not fall foul of the new rules.

The reason for that is that United are solvent and make enough money to pay the interest on their debts, Gill said.

"We have seen what the proposals are and we would meet the financial break even rules," he said. "We as Manchester United have always been run professionally and will continue to be run professionally.

Meanwhile, football needs to take a close look at how the game is run and control its spending or it will be unable to exploit its huge potential for growth, Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis said on Tuesday.

Gazidis, addressing delegates at the Soccerex business forum, said he welcomed the new initiative from European soccer’s governing body UEFA designed to stop clubs being indebted to each other, but clubs themselves need to be more responsible about how they run their finances.

"We are an industry that creates enormous revenues and for us to have the problems means the game is in need of self-examination and must cause us to ask some serious questions of ourselves," he said.

"The fundamental issue is spending. It’s not a complicated business in general but the issue we all face is: do we have the courage and the fortitude to control our spending in what is a fairly irrational environment? If we can manage that there is no reason why anybody can’t have a very sustainable, long term stable business in football."

Welcoming moves by UEFA to impose stricter regulations on clubs, which has the backing of the influential European Clubs Association (ECA), Gazidis said that tighter rules and better run clubs would also attract "more sensible owners" to the game.

Despite figures issued last week by UEFA showing that Europe’s top clubs had total debts of 7 billion euros ($9.47 billion), of which England’s Premier League clubs contributed 3.8 billion towards that total, Gazidis said football was not in crisis.

— Reuters

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