Spotlight on Financial Fair Play in Football: Man City set to be hit with squad restrictions for FFP infringement

Frank Dalleres
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Man City set to be hit with squad restrictions for FFP infringement
Manchester City are expected to be forced to field a weakened team in next season’s Champions League as punishment for breaking European financial fair play (FFP) rules.

The sanction could take the form of a reduction in the number of players or a cap on the total wage bill of the squad City can register for European competition – or both – and is set to be accompanied by a fine.

City A.M. highlighted in March that governing body Uefa had rushed in new rules that allow it to punish FFP breaches with squad handicaps.

Uefa’s Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) is due to meet today to discuss ratifying the punishments, which are likely to be announced next week. Big-spending French champions Paris Saint-Germain are expected to receive a similar sanction.

The European squad handicap is believed to be part of a settlement offered to City by the CFCB. Acceptance would rule out any form of challenge, but would also ensure the Premier League club are not banned from the Champions League – one of the toughest measures available to the CFCB and a possibility were they to try to argue against an FFP charge.

A restriction on squad size might mean City only being able to register 20 players rather than the standard 25 for their Champions League campaign. It has been suggested in France that Uefa’s settlement proposal to PSG includes this punishment.

Exactly what calculations Uefa would use for a cap on the total wage bill of City’s European squad is unclear. The measure is listed in its rulebook, amended in January, as “a financial limit on the overall aggregate cost of the employee benefits expenses of players registered on the A-list for the purposes of Uefa club competitions”, but may hit City, whose wage bill is England’s highest at £233m, harder than most.

FFP rules stipulate that clubs may not lose more than €45m (£37m) over the two-year period from 2011 to 2013. Teams who did have been under investigation by the CFCB since last year.

Another amendment to the rules made earlier this year allows rival teams to challenge settlement decisions. For instance, Everton or Manchester United might seek to appeal any decision to spare City a ban, on the basis it cost them a Champions League or Europa League place, though in practice such a challenge would have to show an outright error had been made by the CFCB.