Will Financial Fair Play Help Or Hinder Ipswich Town?

Surely It is hard to see the new Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules being anything but a good thing for football as a whole.

More and more clubs have over stretched themselves over the last 10 years, built up a huge amount of debt and as a result have crippled their future aspirations. The real fans are the ones who suffer the most too as they will have supported their team through thick and thin, only to be left with a future-less club.

FFP should hopefully stop clubs from wasting their money and taking the enormous financial risks that they were previously taking. However, many confuse the FFP rules for a system that will bring “a level playing field” where any club will have a shot at success.

In actual fact the best way of describing the impact it will have is to describe it as a system where clubs are forced to live within their means. By that I mean that clubs will now find it harder to over achieve and it should also be harder for clubs to under achieve. Clubs are being recommended to spend up to 60% of their turnover on wages, so the bigger their attendances are the bigger their wages will be and in theory bigger wages mean better players.

So theoretically if you made a list of every English football club ranked on attendances then that should be a highly accurate indication of what each division will look like. Some critics of the FFP rules believe that this is how the rules will change the game and they believe everything will become set in stone before a ball has even been kicked. This is a very depressing outlook in a lot of ways because the beauty of football is how completely unpredictable it currently is and the last thing fans want is for football to lose its unpredictable nature.

This idea is only theoretical of course as in reality (especially in football) anything can happen. Personally, I don’t think that financial fair play will have such an obvious and predictable effect on each clubs future purely because money doesn’t guarantee success, in the same way that a lack of money doesn’t mean the club is doomed.

Last season Manchester City did use their spending power to basically buy the Premier League title but looking beyond that there are more examples of money not being essential. Everton have limited resources but still finished above Liverpool who have spent huge amounts and Chelsea’s money only got them to 6th place. If money brought success then Ipswich would have been promoted when Marcus Evans pumped his first load of money into the club.

I believe that the FFP rules won’t change as much in the game as people think they will. First of all, without money you may well struggle like how Coventry and Doncaster did last season but you can also build a good team with little money like how Brighton and Watford did. Reading topped the table without a huge amount of money or big attendances and they are very similar to Ipswich in terms of their size as a club. The key is in how you build the squad from top to bottom and more importantly how well the money is invested, rather than how much money is invested.

I have heard fans saying that Ipswich will never be able to gain promotion unless we bring in another 4,000 to 5,000 fans each week but I couldn’t disagree more. I read some thorough calculations done by a fan a few days ago that stated Ipswich’s wage budget will be around £215,000 a week with the new rules. Further calculations show that you could have 4 star players on around £18,000 a week and the rest on an average of £3,200 a week. It seems that a lot of fans are worried that this budget will leave Ipswich struggling to compete in The Championship but I do not believe there is reason to worry.

Like I said earlier success will depend on how well money is invested, not on the amount invested. I am guessing that at least two of the teams that gained promotion last season had a budget of around £215,000 a week or maybe even less. So you can’t really argue that the FFP rules will prevent Ipswich from gaining promotion and any fan who believes that the club will be held back by low attendances alone has a weak argument. Ipswich have wasted vast amounts of money over the last 3 or 4 seasons by having the wrong approach in the transfer market and that is why they haven’t been promoted.

In conclusion, I do not think that the FFP rules will hinder Ipswich’s chances of gaining promotion in the future. The new rules will encourage the club to search harder for players like Aaron Cresswell who are young, cheap and very talented rather than simply buying players on reputation alone like Grant Leadbitter.