Number of clubs at risk of financial fair play ban on the rise

EUROPEAN football chiefs Uefa believe new financial fair play (FFP) rules are encouraging clubs to spend more responsibly, despite their latest figures showing the number of teams at risk of being banned has rocketed.

Twenty teams from Europe’s top divisions – including two from England, thought to be Chelsea and Manchester City – recorded losses of more than €45m (£37m) for 2009-2011 inclusive – figures that would break FFP rules due to be enforced from next year.

That is up from 13 clubs for the 2008-2010 period, according to Uefa’s benchmarking report, while the figures relating to teams who qualified for European competition also climbed from six to 14.

Combined losses for all top-flight clubs in Europe also rose from €0.6bn (£0.5bn) to a record €1.7bn (£1.5bn), but Uefa general secretary Gianni Infantino cited a 0.1 per cent narrowing to 12.7 per cent of the gap between revenue and costs as evidence that teams were heeding FFP.

Infantino and Uefa president Michel Platini also pointed to a 68 per cent reduction in clubs’ overdue debt since June 2011, following the suspension of some sides for outstanding liabilities.

“We are already starting to see the impact of the first phase of financial fair play with the level of overdue debts on transfers and employee payments reducing with each assessment as clubs realise tough action is and will be taken,” Platini wrote in the benchmarking report. “This is just the start of a long but necessary journey.”

The financial years 2012 and 2013 comprise the first period Uefa will assess from early 2014, with possible bans for those sides that exceed the €45m limit scheduled to be imposed in the 2014-15 season.