FINANCIAL fair play (FFP) rules are now a huge part of everyday life in the business of running a football club. Each Uefa league, and in our case in England each division, has its own set of FFP rules. In our view, none we’ve seen are perfect and they all present their own particular set of challenges.
In the Football League Championship, our own increasingly complex set of rules is further complicated by the fact that next season, some 11 clubs will be benefitting from (larger than ever before) Premier League parachute payments.
For a club like Brighton, this makes it very difficult to compete and the imposition of FFP restrictions can seem very unfair.
With the huge uplift (43 per cent) in parachute payments in mind, discussions have taken place between Championship clubs to amend the current rules – and, while we recognise the difficulties the uplift and current regulations present for some clubs, we are not in favour of further change as the current rules have not had time to bite and, in any case, the basic FFP principle of a club being financially sustainable is paramount.
To us, it’s critical that when rules are agreed clubs abide by them – and, if they don’t, the agreed sanctions are applied. It's equally critical that the authorities are strong on this aspect of the system otherwise it is unfair on clubs working to comply with the rules.
The complexities of the rules have already proved difficult for many in the game – including fans, who will regularly ask clubs for clarification on the thresholds, sanctions and punishments – to understand and further potential changes won't help here either. Supporters need to have both an understanding and confidence in the system to believe it will help support and protect their club.
We do accept that a perfect system is difficult to achieve. We also accept that the Football League, as with the other authorities, has a difficult job to do – it is after all the clubs that vote the rules in. But, for the most part, with the majority of clubs working to comply with the rules, the key principle of FFP – long term financial sustainability – is sound and that must surely be something that anyone who loves the game can support.