Top English clubs set to agree break even rules

PREMIER League clubs are close to finalising historic cost-control measures in line with European financial fair play rules following a meeting of chairmen yesterday in London.

A number of details, such as whether to include a cap on year-on-year wage bill increases, remain unresolved but it is understood there is broad agreement to proceed with rules that would ultimately require teams to break even.

A final decision on the regulations – the first of their kind to be imposed on the English top flight – is not expected until the next meeting in early 2013, with the restrictions set to take effect next season.

The move is an attempt by clubs to arrest spiralling wage costs, a major factor in most sides making a loss despite record league revenues, with a £5bn television windfall set to kick in next term.

“It was a constructive meeting, good ideas were put forward,” one Premier League chairman who did not want to be named told City A.M.

“The majority of clubs are in favour of financial fair play or break even – the odd ones don’t want any change whatsoever, but it’s looking fairly positive. I don’t think there will be a decision until after Christmas.”

Arsenal and Manchester United are thought to be in favour of adopting rules in line with European governing body Uefa, which will gradually reduce allowable losses with a view to making clubs break even or face expulsion from competitions such as the Champions League.

Since a number of top-flight sides with European ambitions are required to abide by them, as well as clubs eyeing promotion from the Championship, it is seen as the most logical course of action.

Sunderland have proposed an alternative, that teams be restricted to increasing their annual wage bill by a maximum of 10 per cent. While the break even rules have the broadest support, it is understood a combination of both measures remains a possibility. Fulham, Tottenham and Newcastle are among those opposed to any form of regulation. Passing the rule changes would require 14 of the 20 clubs to vote in favour.