THE FAIRNESS of football’s so-called financial fair play (FFP) rules, which last week saw English champions Manchester City hit with a raft of punishments, was the overriding theme of last night’s City A.M. roundtable event.
The debate, sponsored by BT Sport and held at its City of London premises, attracted a stellar audience, including former FA chief executive Mark Palios and ex-Arsenal director David Dein.
Takeover broker Keith Harris labelled the European rules, which limit the losses a club can make before risking sanctions, “foul play, not fair play”, adding that clubs’ ability to hire more expensive lawyers than governing body Uefa in order to circumvent the regulations would render it “open season”.
Sports lawyer Ian Lynam of Charles Russell conceded FFP had “some unfair consequences”, such as preventing others from following the rapid, benefactor-fuelled ascent of clubs like Chelsea.
However he added: “It’s impossible to craft a rule that works for everyone, but you look at whether it achieves the most important aims.”
Javed Khan, finance director of the Premier League, which had since devised its own cost-control measures, said his organisation deliberately avoided using the word “fair” in its rules. “Uefa called them fair, but maybe that was a mistake and it’s come back to haunt them,” he said.
Khan also warned that the Premier League would not shirk from exercising the ultimate sanction – expulsion – if one of its clubs seriously infringed.