Financial Fair Play: Which Teams Have Been Punished?

In a rather hollow attempt to level the playing field (at least, as much as you can nowadays), UEFA’s Financial Fair Play has been in use for the best part of the last decade, to prevent clubs from spending more than they earn, thus threatening their long-term financial stability.

FFP takes into account both incomings (i.e. gate receipts, advertising, disposal of tangible fixed assets, player sale, prize money, TV revenue) and outgoings (i.e. transfers, financial costs, writing off initial costs of transfers, finance costs, dividends).

Sanctions have been issued against clubs who haven’t followed its regulations, including disqualification from the European competitions, fines, the withholding of prize money and player transfer bans.

But which clubs have fallen foul of FFP? And why can some others seemingly circumvent the rules? Here’s the full list:

  • Vojvodina – fined €10,000 (December 21, 2012)
  • Arsenal Kyiv – fined €45,000 (December 21, 2012)
  • Osijek – fined €100,000 (December 21, 2012)
  • Dinamo București – fined €100,000 (December 21, 2012)
  • Rapid București – fined €100,000 (December 21, 2012). Missed deadline to pay outstanding payments and was handed a one-season ban from European competition (March 31, 2013).
  • Hajduk Split – fined €40,000 (December 21, 2012). Withheld prize money for not paying outstanding payments (September 20, 2013)
  • Malaga – fined €300,000 and handed a one-season ban from European competition (March 31, 2013)
  • Astra Ploiești – withheld prize money for not paying outstanding payments (September 20, 2013)
  • Metalurh Donetsk – withheld prize money for not paying outstanding payments (September 20, 2013). Handed a one-season ban from European competition and fined €80,000 (December 20, 2013).
  • Skonto – withheld prize money for not paying outstanding payments (September 20, 2013). Handed a one-season ban from European competition and fined €40,000 (December 20, 2013).
  • Trabzonspor – withheld prize money for not paying outstanding payments (September 20, 2013)
  • Zrinjski Mostar – withheld prize money for not paying outstanding payments (September 20, 2013)
  • Petrolul Ploiești – handed a one-season ban from European competition and fined €50,000 (December 20, 2013).
  • Pandurii Târgu Jiu – fined €40,000 (December 20, 2013)
  • Śląsk Wrocław – fined €20,000 (December 20, 2013)
  • Anzhi Makhachkala – fined €2 million, of which €1 million was suspended. Squad for UEFA competitions reduced to 21 players, and one-year squad salary restrictions imposed (May 16, 2014)
  • Bursaspor – fined €200,000 fine, and one-year squad salary restrictions imposed (May 16, 2014)
  • Galatasaray – fined €200,000, and one-year squad salary restrictions imposed (May 16, 2014)
  • Levski Sofia – fined €200,000, and one-year squad salary restrictions imposed (May 16, 2014)
  • Rubin Kazan – fined €6 million, of which €3 million was suspended. Squad for UEFA competitions reduced to 21 players, and transfer spending restrictions and two-year squad salary restrictions imposed (May 16, 2014)
  • Trabzonspor – fined €200,000, and one-year squad salary restrictions imposed (May 16, 2014)
  • Zenit Saint Petersburg – fined €12 million fine, of which €6 million was suspended. Squad for UEFA competitions reduced to 22 players, and transfer spending restrictions and two-year squad salary restrictions were imposed (May 16, 2014)
  • Paris Saint-Germain – find €60 million, of which €40 million was suspended. Squad for UEFA competitions reduced to 21 players, and transfer spending restrictions and two-year squad salary restrictions imposed (May 16, 2014)
  • Manchester City – fined €60 million, of which €40 million was suspended. Squad for UEFA competitions reduced to 21 players, and transfer spending restrictions and two-year squad salary restrictions imposed (May 16, 2014)
  • Astana – fined €2 million, of which €1.5 million was suspended. Squad for UEFA competitions reduced to 22 players, and transfer spending restrictions imposed. Required to break even by 2018 (May 20, 2016)
  • Dinamo Zagreb – fined €200,000. Squad for UEFA competitions reduced to 23 players, and required to break even by 2016 (May 20, 2016)
  • Fenerbahçe – fined €7.5 million, of which €5.5 million was suspended. Squad for UEFA competitions reduced to 22 players. Transfer spending restrictions imposed, required to reach a defined employee benefit expenses to revenue ratio, and required to break even by 2019 (May 20, 2016)
  • Trabzonspor – fined €2 million, of which €1 million was suspended. Squad for UEFA competitions reduced to 22 players. Transfer spending restrictions imposed, required to reach a defined employee benefit expenses to revenue ratio, and required to break even by 2018 (May 20, 2016)
  • AC Milan – banned from European competitions for a year (June 28, 2019)

Are Some Clubs Getting Away With It, And How?

There is a well-documented theory that FFP basically robs from the poor and gives to the rich, thus keeping the strongest forces strong. Their lofty positions in football’s order are solidified, and competition slows to a trickle.

Interestingly, the first three European clubs to fully agree with FFP were also three of its biggest (Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich). The regulations will just increase their power and are designed to alleviate the threat of their dominance across the continent from clubs like Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City.

And yet, despite taking one of the biggest hits from FFP, Man City are also one of the clubs accused of finding loopholes. German publication Das Spiegel reported that the club, which is owned by the United Arab Emirates government, have manipulated contracts along with their sponsors to pass the regulations.

It is also reported that City owner Sheikh Mansour provided additional funds to existing sponsorship deals in Abu Dhabi (where he is a member of the Royal Family) to drive more money into the club. Operations essentially involving another party, as with PSG’s deals with the Qatari Investment Group, are considered especially suspect.

Then, in November 2018, Das Spiegel again published leaked documents and emails against City, alleging they misled UEFA by not revealing it had directed money to the club from its owner Sheikh Mansour via sponsors linked to him, and artificially inflated the value of their commercial income to help them comply with the FFP rules requiring clubs to break even.

Though City deny any wrongdoing, if they are found guilty, their place in European competition could be under threat.

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