Will the UEFA financial regulations save football?
Manchester’s spending sprees may soon be over
Ferguson has been at it again, this time making thinly-veiled digs at those noisy neighbours, Manchester City, about the amount of money being splashed about in the transfer window. Manchester City are reported to have spent around £130m on a handful of new players, whereas Sir Alex has been more prudent spending only £24m.
But will Manchester Utd’s new signings represent better value? Of the three moving to Old Trafford this season, arguably only one player has really been tested – Javier Hernández, the Mexican international who spent four years with Guadalajara in the Mexican Primera División.
Chris Smalling, signed from Fulham for around £10m, had only started two Premier League matches before Sir Alex snapped him up and, reportedly, Fergie had never seen Bébé play. For a club in as much debt as Manchester Utd, £24m on largely unproven signings is a lot of money – just over six months’ worth of interest payments in fact.
What makes this transfer activity all the more interesting is the introduction of the UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations, the first phase of which is due to come into effect from 2012. The upshot of the regulations is that clubs must ensure that they spend within their means.
Being bankrolled by a wealthy businessman won’t cut the mustard either, so Fulham and possibly Blackburn might want to take heed too. It means that transfers of this magnitude are unlikely to continue, for all but the most successful teams reaching the latter stages of the Champions League and the FA Cup where the prize money could end up being the difference between a new signing or not.
Whether the new regulations will work for the good of football remains to be seen. The penalty for non-compliance is the revocation of the UEFA licence, meaning no European football, but that will only affect the top six or seven clubs in England. If Portsmouth, Cardiff or Sheffield Wednesday have little chance of competing in Europe, why would they bother constraining themselves?
Until the Football League and Premier League look to implement something similar, there is still the danger that clubs continue to spend well beyond their means.