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UEFA's Executive Committee has approved a set of key regulations as part of the financial fair play concept designed to bring greater stability to European football in the coming years. Financial fair play was one of eleven key values presented by UEFA president Michel Platini to the 2009 UEFA Congress in Copenhagen, and which serve as the basis for UEFA's activities and dialogue on behalf of European football.
The UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations, given the green light by the committee at its meeting in Nyon on Thursday, will lay down provisions, criteria and measures aimed at restoring well-being to the European club game. The full regulations will be published in June.
Under the concept, clubs will have to balance their books, not spend more than they earn and operate within their financial means, thereby curtailing the excesses that have endangered football's health in recent times. Other key objectives of the concept are to reduce pressure on salaries and transfer fees, protect the long-term viability of European club football, and ensure that clubs settle their liabilities in a timely manner.
There will be a phased implementation period over three years, before the most important element of the regulations – the "break-even" requirement where clubs must not spend more than they generate – comes into effect for financial statements for the reporting period ending 2012. Initial sanctions against clubs who do not fulfil the break-even requirement can be taken in the 2013/14 season, on the basis of financial information from the two previous seasons.
"The financial crisis has helped people become more concerned that something needs to be done – the spiral has to stop," said UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino. "Everyone understands that it is necessary. After in-depth discussions, the Executive Committee approved the financial fair play regulations unanimously."
Mr Infantino repeated that the phased approach should be beneficial for clubs. "We are not there to punish clubs, but to help them." European Club Association (ECA) chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and the other stakeholders in European football have also expressed considerable satisfaction at the measures. "We are concerned, and many of the clubs and owners are concerned, about the sustainability of the game," said Mr Infantino.
The UEFA general secretary said that more than 650 clubs throughout Europe had been surveyed. It had been found that 50% were making losses every year and 20% were making massive losses, spending 120% of their revenue each year.
A Club Financial Control Panel, chaired by former Belgian prime minister Jean-Luc Dehaene, will give guidance and advice to clubs over the next two years, once the regulations are public, to allow them to restructure themselves accordingly.
The financial fair play concept and its associated regulations are also aimed at improving financial fairness in European competitions and stimulating long-term investment in areas such as youth development and the upgrading of sports installations. More discipline with club finances and responsible spending and investment are crucial objectives within the concept.
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