So they say: “Money is what makes the world go round.”
A simply saying but one that has proven to be very relevant in today’s football market. Every year a new transfer record is broken.
Whether it is £89M for Paul Pogba in 2016 or the staggering £198M paid for Neymar in August 2017, there seems to be no end to the madness.
Back in 2001, Real Madrid paid Juventus £46.6 for Zinedine Zidane, which at the time was a world transfer record. That record stood until 2009 when Cristiano Ronaldo transferred from Manchester United to the all-powerful Real Madrid for £80M.
Back then, huge sums were only paid for the highest calibre of players when it looked like a record would stay in place for years to come. Now, due to the influx of foreign investment from oil rich countries and the cash generated from T.V rights, there seems to be an endless amount of funds available to the clubs owners.
Are we facing a problem?
Football’s governing bodies; UEFA and FIFA have identified this as a problem and have introduced measures to prevent over spending from some of the world’s biggest clubs, called “Financial Fair Play”. According to UEFA’s official website, any club who has a €5M deficit over a three year period are subject to nine penalties each growing in severity depending on the offence. These include:
- Deduction of points
- Withholding of revenues from a UEFA competition
- Prohibition on registering new players in UEFA competitions
- Restriction on the number of players that a club may register for participation in UEFA competitions, including a financial limit on the overall aggregate cost of the employee benefits expenses of players registered on the A-list for the purposes of UEFA club competitions
- Disqualification from competitions in progress and/or exclusion from future competitions
- Withdrawal of a title or award
In recent times, PSG and Manchester City have been prosecuted, with each club fined €60M, €40M suspended. Squad reduced to 21 players. Transfer spending restrictions and two-year squad salary restrictions.
However in today’s world, fining a club €20M means very little. After PSG spending nearly a quarter of a billion euro on the Brazilian, Neymar, will the PSG hierarchy really care about a small €20M fine? I highly doubt it. The point of the Financial Fair Play (FFP) programme is to stop clubs living beyond their means and to keep the market constant and fair to all clubs. The transfer market is spiralling out of control.
At the time of writing this article, PSG are in the news once again regarding the transfer of Kylian Mbappé from AS Monaco. The 18 year old Frenchman is regarded as one of the brightest talents in the game and has been dubbed “The New Ronaldo”.
The fee is reported to be around £166M as he will initially join on a season-long loan with the obligation to buy him next summer. The reason for the initial loan is so that PSG will avoid breaking FFP regulations as they have already spent beyond their means with the Neymar transfer. Technically, the fee will only be paid next summer, giving the Paris giant’s time to re-coup some of the money spent by selling fringe and unwanted players, therefore balancing the books to please UEFA.
Even if PSG are reprimanded, they will not be bothered in the slightest as they will have beaten the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester City to the signing of the highly rated French striker and that is worth more than any potential punishment from UEFA.
The question is, will UEFA have the stomach to impose stronger restrictions on this type of spending or will the market continue to spiral until money is meaningless and just a figure on a piece of paper?