A meeting last week between the Premier League and its 20 members regarding the proposed Financial Fair Play rulings has, as expected, been met with mixed feelings among top flight owners.
The Premier League has proposed a ‘break-even rule,’ which does exactly what it says on the tin, in order to sustain financial stability while also preventing wage inflation and promoting a more ‘even playing field.’
It’s a model that we have all longed for in an age where football clubs are either going out of business or slipping down the leagues due to the loss of important revenue and the inability to keep up with the more wealthy clubs who can pay the best players the best wages.
UEFA has introduced a similar ruling in their competitions that demands clubs can only spend what they earn commercially and that they must break even, although they have gifted clubs a three year period in which they are allowed to make a loss of £36.3 million.
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It is this kind of ruling that the Premier League hopes to adopt, but they have been met with some club owners’ disapproval, which if we’re honest, was always expected.
Fulham, Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City have all voted against the introduction of the break-even rule, which means there is still some creases to iron out before all Premier League clubs are happy to proceed.
The ruling does prevent owners pumping money into the club whenever they like, which has been met with uncertainty among clubs Chelsea and Manchester City, whose billionaire owners have given them the opportunity to perform on Europe’s biggest stage and win Premier League trophies. Chelsea do support the break-even rule, however, but still want the luxury of Roman Ambramovich’s bottomless pockets whenever they need to dip their hands in.
Chelsea have a point, but that would contradict the whole Financial Fair Play model and leave clubs without multi-billionaire owners still struggling to compete. Chelsea might be able to break even and comply to the FFP rules, but if Abramovich pumps in £100 million in equity into the club so Roberto Di Matteo can sign Lionel Messi, for example, that completely defeats the object.
The whole point behind FFP is to create a more level playing field in the Premier League and, more importantly, to prevent situations that Portsmouth have found themselves in.
We all know that it won’t be long before another top-flight side is bought by a multi-billionaire who is prepared to pump unlimited funds in to the club in exchange for silverware, European dominance and domestic glory.
But under these new rules, that wouldn’t necessarily mean we will have another Chelsea and Manchester City on our hands where the side buys and wins everyone and everything. Thankfully, those days are numbered.
What we should expect from this ruling is the smaller clubs being able to make a profit and slowly grow into sustainable businesses and successful teams. Of course, clubs like Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool will always be able to pay more wages because they generate more income commercially than the likes of, say, Wigan or Southampton.
But the Uniteds and Arsenals of the division will no longer be able to break the bank to sign a player who wants £180,000-a-week and will have to think twice about putting them on their wage bill. As a result, the transfer market may develop into a more open source for players. Other clubs could have a shot at bringing in a marquee signing, which is something we rarely see in the current climate.
Overall, the FFP ruling will benefit the majority of the Premier League, while the minority may have to take a hit in order to adapt. It could spell the end of the mighty top four and the tight grip the likes of United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City have over the title race, much to the delight of those who have previously challenged in vain to break the mould.
It won’t be instantaneous but, if implemented correctly, FFP could be a case of ‘one small step for football, one giant leap for the Premier League.’
What do you think? Is the break-even rule what the Premier League really needs to clean up its act? Leave your thoughts below.