Individual players could be banned from playing in Champions League fixtures as punishment for breaching new financial sustainability measures, Uefa has confirmed.
A replacement for financial fair play (FFP) rules was approved by Uefa’s executive committee on Thursday, and will be brought in this summer, with clubs in continental competition ultimately limited to spending no more than 70% of their revenue on players, transfers and agents fees.
Sanctions for breaking the rules range from fines and point deductions to player and competition bans, but officials admit the changes will not be enough in themselves to redress competitive imbalance in Europe.
Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin said the regulations had been agreed after more than 100 meetings with football stakeholders. “I am very happy, I don’t want to say even surprised, that we got support from all the stakeholders,” he said.
“Uefa’s first financial regulations … helped pull European football’s finances back on track. But the football industry changed and alongside the inevitable financial effects of the pandemic, it has shown the need [for] reform.”
Under the new rules, clubs taking part in European competition (and by extension clubs who hope to qualify in future) must comply with three different criteria regarding solvency, stability and cost control. Solvency measures will ensure that all payables owed are paid on time, with quarterly inspections.
Under stability rules, clubs could lose up to €60m (£50m) over three years, but losses must eventually be covered by owner investment. Finally, cost controls would limit the money spent on players and coaches. Uefa will also monitor all sponsorship deals struck by clubs to ensure they are conducted at fair market value.
Punishments for breaking the regulations depend on the size of breach and whether it persists. For smaller, shorter breaches, financial fines will come into place. Larger longer breaches could result in “prohibition on registering new players in Uefa competitions”, as well as limits on squad sizes. Uefa’s financial sustainability director Andrea Traverso said the possibility of relegating offenders, from the Champions League Europa League or Europa Conference League, was also being considered.
“If a rich club overspends above the cap it will incur sanctions,” Traverso said, arguing that new rules would be tougher to circumvent. “There might be various ways to circumvent, to disguise payments of salary, but it [would] breach national law as well as Uefa regulations. Our capacity to investigate is limited, we are not the police, but we believe that in the way they are defined it is becoming more and more difficult to get around.”
Traverso was forced to acknowledge, however, that the rules would not achieve greater competitiveness in European football. “Competitive imbalance cannot be addressed simply by financial regulations,” he conceded. “It must be addressed in combination with sporting measures and other measures. This is why we changed the name. The name fair play was interpreted as creating a level playing field, we wanted to change [that perception].”