Three words: Financial Fair Play. Words that, to be completely transparent, seemed like a move by UEFA that would be more to appease the masses than a move that would actually bring about change. To imagine that anything would be done to some of the bigger guns in world football to try and curb their ridiculous spending seemed far-fetched…yet, after today, we have seen that UEFA were not just blowing smoke. Although close to ten clubs have been hit with fines and sanctions, the biggest stories will be UEFA hitting PSG and Manchester City (both league champions, it should be noted) getting slapped with MAJOR fines and a squad reduction during the upcoming Champions League.
First, to get this out of the way, these fines will not hurt either of these clubs. The same money that put them into this situation will be the same money to pay the fines, and the clubs will still have a massive wealth of money to support the club’s “needs.” If all these clubs had to worry about was a fine for their extreme spending, it would probably only curve their habits marginally.
However, both of these clubs have one trophy in mind this upcoming season to truly justify their mountain of spending and treasure trove of players: the Champions League. With the squad size sanctions that have been handed down, it may end up hurting their shot at the biggest title in Europe. Although 21 players might not seem terrible, think that each game necessitates 18 (11 starters, 7 subs)…now think that, throughout the course of the season, four of the players you listed at the beginning have gone down injured. Now, you cannot even field a full bench…ouch.
Perhaps the biggest surprise from all of this news is the teams that DID NOT receive punishments from UEFA. While it is entirely possible that Real Madrid actually makes enough money through merchandise sales and brand marketing to offset any possible amount of spending, other clubs have been letting their budget sneak into the stratosphere over the last few months. Barcelona just signed Messi to a deal making ONE PLAYER $27 million PER YEAR. AS Monaco will continue to drop large piles of cash for big players. The list of clubs spending large and spending often seems to go on and on and on…yet the list of clubs being hit with big fines only lists 10.
Is this a decent first step towards FFP? Perhaps. In reading some of the fines and sanctions, it seems that the clubs can meet certain criteria to duck the brunt of the penalty (a theme with most FIFA/UEFA actions on clubs i.e. Barcelona’s transfer ban). But, it will put something in the back of club executive’s minds when they get ready to write that huge transfer check. The true test will be in another few seasons or if UEFA is still slapping teams with fines a few years down the road. Especially since PSG and City feel like the easiest “big clubs” to hit with fines without facing worldwide backlash. Imagine if Manchester United/Real Madrid/Barcelona had gotten the same sanctions applied? There would be an uproar. As with most big moves in world football, only time will tell.