Bosman rule lawyer lodges challenge to Uefa fair play

Frank Dalleres
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A LAWYER behind the Bosman ruling, which irrevocably changed the world of football transfers, has launched the first legal challenge to European chiefs Uefa’s nascent Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.

If successful, the complaint to the European Commission could see FFP rules scrapped or amended, freeing clubs to spend as much as they wish and breathing new life into the “sugar daddy” ownership model.

Lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont, part of the legal team who represented former player Jean-Marc Bosman in his landmark 1995 case, submitted the complaint yesterday on behalf of Belgian agent Daniel Striani.

Striani claims FFP rules restricting clubs’ investment will have a deflationary effect on player earnings – thereby also reducing those of agents – and infringe fundamental provisions of EU law.

The challenge makes clear it is only contesting the “break-even rule” element of FFP and does not oppose the banning of clubs who have outstanding debts, such as Champions League quarter-finalists Malaga.

Striani argues that the break-even rule, which broadly limits clubs to spending what they earn, will restrict competition by limiting investments; “fossilising” the supremacy of current leading teams; reducing transfer amounts and the number of moves; deflating player salaries; and denting agent revenues.

Uefa FFP break-even rules, which are currently being phased in, decree that clubs may only lose a maximum of €45m (£37m) over the two-year period from 2011-13 or face a ban from European competitions.

Vice-president of the European Commission Joaquin Almunia, who is also responsible for competition, last year gave FFP “full support”, and Uefa said it expected the EC to reject Striani and Dupont’s complaint.

“The European Commission, the European Parliament, the European clubs, leagues and players’ union have all been fully supportive of FFP,” the governing body said.

“Uefa rules encourage clubs to ‘live within their own means’, which is a sound economic principle aiming to guarantee the long-term sustainability and viability of European football.

“Uefa believes that FFP is fully in line with EU law and is confident that the European Commission will reject this complaint.”

Dupont’s victory in the Bosman case spawned “freedom of movement”, meaning players at the end of contracts could move without a fee if joining another European club.