Neymar: How can Paris Saint-Germain afford the £199m Barcelona star, what about Financial Fair Play and how do buy-out clauses work? A lawyer explains

Daniel Geey
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Paris Saint-Germain are set to pay £199m to buy out Neymar's contract at Barcelona (Source: Getty)

How do buyout clauses such as Neymar's work?

In Spain, the buying club has to pay money to La Liga to activate the buyout clause, which is a contractual stipulation in a player’s contract.

Can Barcelona or La Liga ask Uefa to block the deal?

There’s nothing prohibiting Barcelona contacting Uefa but if the buy-out figure is met, there is nothing proactively that Uefa can do to stop the transfer for Financial Fair Play (FFP) compliance purposes.

Barcelona or La Liga are not the FFP regulator; Uefa is. Therefore it is up to each club when submitting their FFP documentation to demonstrate they are compliant.

I don’t believe a club has the power to ask Uefa to start an investigation. Uefa can ask questions of transactions if they wish to which usually happens after the submission of each club’s FFP submissions.

Is there any precedent for Uefa scrutinising a transfer at the time?

When the relevant accounts are submitted to Uefa there’s no reason why Uefa can’t ask questions of transactions, be it a big sponsorship deal or a transfer, to ensure that it has been accounted for properly.

Paris Saint-Germain are unlikely to be blocked from signing players by Uefa (Source: Getty)

If Paris Saint-Germain are under no substantive transfer restrictions then I can’t see any grounds where Uefa could prohibit a transfer occurring.

If Uefa are to take any action it is highly unlikely to be at the time of the transfer, but rather in the period of time after the relevant financial submissions have been made by the clubs.

How do PSG square such a big one-off fee with FFP?

The buying club paying in instalments or one-off payment doesn’t make much difference from an accounting perspective.

This is because PSG will account for the transfer in their FFP submissions by way of amortisation of the overall fee divided by the years of Neymar’s contract.

Even if it is paid in one lump sum the accounting cost per season will only be, in say a five-year deal, a fifth of the overall number.

It’s likely they will have to push through a lot of pretty lucrative commercial deals or maybe even more likely sell a number of players to recoup enough revenues to adhere to the FFP regulations.

If say, PSG have made profit in previous years for FFP accounting purposes, then that goes some way to subsidising any subsequent loss from the transfer of Neymar.

Could Neymar’s wages be topped up by Qatar?

Uefa can certainly look into that at the time of the FFP submissions but only costs that the club are incurring – the transfer fee amortisation on a yearly basis, his wages, and any loyalty and signing-on fees – will be submitted to Uefa.

An external sponsorship deal wouldn’t be part of that submission, but if there were related-party links between PSG and an entity providing sponsorship that could be looked into in order to understand whether the actual wage deal was undertaken at an undervalue.

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