As the new European club competition season dawns – heralded by the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League group stage draws in Monaco – UEFA President Michel Platini, writing in the official UEFA publication UEFA•direct, explains that UEFA's financial fair play concept is crucial to the game's well-being.
Can passion ever rhyme with reason? In football it is no easy task to make the two go hand in hand, given the comprehensive losses that some clubs have got into the bad habit of accumulating over the seasons. We have often insisted that football, far from being a mere economic activity, is above all a sport and a game, and that its popularity stems from the fact that it stirs passions.
However, this undeniable truth must not stand in the way of reason and mask the harsh reality that if it continues along this path, professional football will run headlong into bankruptcy, and its collapse will not be without repercussions at grassroots level, tarnishing its image, if nothing else.
This should not be seen as a call for austerity and a return to the budgets of old. Football moves impressive amounts of money and that is a good thing. Nor is it a question of seeking a utopian distribution of wealth. There have always been clubs that are richer than others and there doubtless always will be. All we want is for clubs – richer and poorer alike – to spend no more than they earn and to balance their books, this being the only sure way for them to survive.
To this end, with the unanimous support of all the stakeholders, and with a view to helping the clubs, we have established financial fair play criteria which we will start to apply strictly from this season. So aside from the matches, which once again promise to attract a huge following, the 2011/12 season will draw attention for another, more particular, reason – one with far-reaching implications as it is in the interests of the game as a whole if all the clubs play by the rules, comply with the financial fair play criteria and achieve a sustainable financial balance, making passion agree with reason.
I wish all the clubs, players, directors, referees and fans an exciting new season typified by fair play in all its forms.
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