Financial Fair Play not fair, says Gazidis

ARSENAL chief executive Ivan Gazidis insists so-called Financial Fair Play rules are not fair at all but does believe they will make the Premier League a more open competition.

Gazidis firmly supports European governing body Uefa’s drive to make all clubs live within their means, which came into effect this year.

However he concedes the regulatory system will not create a level playing field, arguing it will instead improve the health of football as a whole. “I don’t like the term Financial Fair Play. It lends itself to being attacked because people say it’s not fair,” Gazidis said at the Leaders in Football conference in London yesterday.

“None of the systems that you might create are fair and none of them are going to be. We’re not on a level playing field now and we won’t be if FFP is implemented either. To me it’s not about fairness or level playing field.

“None of the systems that may be established for the future of football is going to be perfect. They all have drawbacks and loopholes. I think it’s very important we keep an eye on them. They should not be set in stone, they must evolve and develop as the game evolves.”

Stoke chairman and Bet365 tycoon Peter Coates joined those questioning whether FFP will prevent smaller teams challenging the elite, saying: “The downside is that it reinforces the people at the top.”

But far from tightening the elite’s stranglehold, Gazidis believes the benefits FFP affords to a vast swathe of clubs will create a more competitive environment.

He added: “I think it will attract strong, very capable ownership into clubs that are, at the moment, struggling to attract investment.

“There are many clubs in this country that have enormous potential that could be unlocked. But is it going to be done in a year by buying players? No. There has to be a longer-term plan.

“I don’t agree it locks in the hierarchy; I think what we have now is more predictable. No club wants a system that locks in the current hierarchy forever. If you’re at the top it’s not healthy.

“I don’t believe it’s healthy in Spain to have Barcelona and Real Madrid locked into the top two positions.”