S to relax controversial financial fair play rules (FFP) have been driven by pressure from European clubs fearful that English teams have become too strong, according to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
Premier League sides account for 20 of the world’s 40 richest outfits, say Deloitte, and a bumper new £5bn television contract set to start next year threatens to strengthen their financial position further.
That deal prompted the president of French team Saint-Etienne, Bernard Caiazzo, to urge clubs on the continent to join forces and rein in English clubs’ power, as City A.M. reported in February.
European governing body Uefa confirmed on Monday that an easing of FFP rules is likely to be decided next month, and Wenger believes it is a result of lobbying from overseas owners.
“I believe the television contract in England has pushed some other clubs in Europe to want this to be a bit more flexible for them so they can compete better,” he said. “I believe it’s more down to counteracting the potential investments of the English clubs by the other European clubs.”
Uefa has not decided how FFP will change, but it is thought strict limits on the amount clubs may lose – €30m (£22m) for 2012-15 – are likely to be relaxed.
The body has also come under pressure from legal challenges to FFP led by Jean-Louis Dupont, one of the lawyers behind the landmark Bosman ruling, which revolutionised the transfer system. Dupont has hinted that legal challenges made to the European Commission and courts in Brussels and Paris may be dropped depending on which FFP alterations are decreed by Uefa’s executive committee in late June.