ONE of the experts behind Uefa’s financial fair play (FFP) rules has warned that the credibility of European football’s governing body rests on its response to Paris Saint-Germain’s new €700m (£570m) four-year deal with the Qatar Tourism Authority QTA.
PSG will receive €150m (£122m) this season rising to €200m (£163m) in 2015-16 from QTA, which, like the club’s owners the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), is an arm of the Gulf state. The deal does not include shirt sponsorship or stadium naming rights, but will help promote Qatar, according to newspaper Le Parisien.
The deal promises to prevent big-spending PSG from breaking European rules outlawing losses of more than €45m (£37m) for 2011-13. But David Lampitt, who was part of an expert group that helped develop Uefa’s FFP framework, believes it will pose a stern challenge to the body’s determination to take a hard line.
“It looks like a pretty astounding deal that certainly stretches credibility. Whether it undermines FFP or not rests with Uefa and how they deal with it,” Lampitt, now chief executive of Supporters Direct, told City A.M. “From the point of view of other clubs, in France or England, it’s important that Uefa is seen to be acting with credibility in these issues.
“I don’t think it’s unexpected but when you look at the historic value of sponsorship deals for Paris Saint-Germain and the French league you’ll find this is hugely out of kilter.”
FFP rules are aimed at ensuring clubs spend only what they generate and Uefa insists it will not let clubs artificially boost income through deals with related companies.
PSG’s contract with QTA dwarfs even Abu Dhabi-backed Manchester City’s £400m, 10-year sponsorship agreement with state airline Etihad, which also prompted questions.
Lampitt, whose role at Supporters Direct involves advocating a more sustainable approach to football finance, and helped draw up the Championship’s own version of FFP, says Uefa has the framework to assess such unprecedented deals.
“They’ve anticipated this in the way they’ve put FFP rules together,” he added. “It can be done but it’s a significant area for testing the credibility of FFP and ensuring it’s applied resoundingly and consistently.”