Spending rises spark concerns clubs ignoring fair play rules

CLUBS across Europe are jeopardising their participation in continental competitions by continuing to ignore new rules on spending, football finance experts fear.

The summer transfer window, which closed on Wednesday night, saw a £125m rise in gross outlay by Premier League sides, who splashed £485m on signings.

Spanish and Italian leagues witnessed even bigger relative increases, despite tougher economic conditions, research by Deloitte shows.

That could put clubs at risk of breaking Financial Fair Play rules, which are designed to make teams break even, have just come into effect and carry the penalty of suspension from European competitions.

“It doesn’t seem as if clubs have fully adapted to Financial Fair Play yet,” Dan Jones, partner in Deloitte’s Sport Business Group, told City A.M.

“Clubs are continuing to invest and compete for the best possible squad to finish as high up the table as they can, which is the same as ever.

“The imponderable bit is how cognisant they are of Financial Fair Play in what they are doing.”

Jones’s comments come after the European Club Association, which represents 200 teams, admitted to concerns that “not all clubs have really understood what Financial Fair Play means”. ECA general secretary Michele Centenaro added: “That is a bit worrying.”

The combined £710m spent by Premier League teams in the 2011 summer and winter transfer windows is the record for a calendar year.