The people at UEFA seem to have plenty of time on their hands, as Michel Platini has come up with another plan that could directly affect Premier League clubs. Platini is unhappy with the huge losses that football clubs are suffering and warnings have been made to clubs that are running at a loss, which of course include the Premiership’s richest clubs, Chelsea and Manchester City. UEFA have inferred that clubs running at a loss with be barred from the Champions League in the future, but is this another one of UEFA’s ideas that will never get off the ground? Surely by excluding some of the biggest clubs they are only harming their own product, and Chelsea or City would never be banned from European competition, would they?
The President of UEFA Michel Platini is never short of an idea to try and improve European football. One of his brainwaves was to introduce four officials into matches, a policy which is being trialled in the Europa League this season with mixed success. Why he doesn’t focus on introducing goal line technology is anyone’s guess, but that’s another matter entirely. UEFA is now looking to get the finances of European football in order and it appears that they aren’t afraid to introduce some radical policies by threatening to ban teams generating losses in a bullish approach. This news comes just days after both Chelsea and Manchester City announced huge losses, and neither club look like breaking even in the near future. So should Chelsea and City be genuinely concerned about UEFA’s plans?
The thinking behind UEFA’s idea is sound with the major financial problems that many clubs are facing in difficult financial times. The idea itself is not particularly new, as back in August of last year Platini is quoted in The Guardian as saying that “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.” The Frenchman might as well have directly mentioned Chelsea and City in that statement, owned by billionaires Roman Abramovich and the Abu Dhabi United Group respectively. Now the European Club Association has followed that up by putting forward the ‘financial fair play’ rule, but in attempt to provide clubs with what UEFA call a “soft landing” it won’t be introduced until the 2013 / 2014 season at the earliest. So an apparently bullish UEFA aren’t exactly forcing through their ideas, as they recognise as much as anyone that the Champions League would be a lesser competition without Europe’s biggest clubs, whether they are making money or not.
As far as Chelsea and City are concerned, I can’t think that they are going to be quaking in their boots after UEFA’s latest plans. Chelsea’s chief executive Ron Gourlay has already said that plans to break even are only an aspiration, and City’s spending is unlikely to be brought under control anytime soon. It will be interesting to see whether UEFA take a tough stance on this, but I can’t see them decreasing their revenue opportunities on the back of financial principles. It all just seems to be a lot of hot air and empty promises from Platini and UEFA, as their power in world football has been lost to the biggest clubs already. There is little stopping the Chelsea’s and City’s of this world starting their own competition, even though this idea seems to have stalled recently. So would UEFA actually ever ban loss-making clubs from the Champions League? I wouldn’t bet on it, that’s for sure.