Sunday, 16 September 2012

Financial Fair Play

With the new Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A campaigns several weeks into their respective seasons, new trends for predicting the eventual winners of the world's biggest leagues are  becoming as popular as fantasy football tables. And all these trends point to one thing: spending brings silverware home. It took close to a $1 billion investment over the last couple years by Sheikh Mansour to bring home the Premier League trophy to Manchester City last season, and since then, clubs are retaliating. Chelsea has spent over $100 million on just two players this pre-season, and that seems like a bargain in comparison to the skill Eden Hazard brings to the pitch. All over the world, the clubs with the richest owners are spending, and spending big. Which is why Financial Fair Play cannot come soon enough. 

Already, we are seeing some effects of the rules that require teams to at least break even on spending, with the Europa League champions Atletico Madrid and over a dozen other teams not receiving their tournament earnings due to insolvency issues. But for the near-term, Financial Fair Play cannot definitively solve the problem. Barcelona and Real Madrid have the two highest pay-rolls in the world, but they also have individual tv rights that allow them to spend beyond any other club in La Liga; the result is an uncompetitive table that has two familiar names always at the top. The same is occurring in other markets, such as France where Paris Saint-Germain is outspending the competition, and the Premier League where Manchester City and Chelsea have taken the reigns in record transfer fees. Financial Fair Play will be good for the sport, and will only attract true lovers of the game to become owners, instead of businessmen that pile on debt to the clubs in the hopes of making a chunk of change back. The question now becomes: will these largest teams be too big to stop if they decide Financial Fair Play isn't for them? Rumors of discontent have led to the idea of a new "Super League" being formed by the world's largest teams. Soon enough, deficit spending by football teams may even topple the bills of governments. But what do football fans care, so long as they get to watch the beautiful game?

-Aureen Sarker (Photo Credit: Manchester City F.C

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