UEFA has emphasised the importance of its financial fair play concept for the overall good health of European football.
UEFA president Michel Platini and general secretary Gianni Infantino explained the concept and its purpose at a media briefing in Monaco on Thursday, as well as giving updates on UEFA's activities to combat betting fraud and ongoing preparations for UEFA EURO 2012.
UEFA's financial fair play initiative – a key element of eleven values for the future of European football, announced by Mr Platini last year – is aimed especially at curbing the financial excesses that have brought a considerable number of clubs into difficulty in recent times. "The financial fair play concept has been launched to safeguard the long-term health of European football," said Mr Infantino. "One of the project's key requirements is to force clubs to finance their business activities with the resources they generate themselves."
Appropriate regulations have been put in place. The UEFA Club Financial Control Panel – chaired by former Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene – has been set up to monitor and ensure that clubs across UEFA's member association adhere to the financial fair play requirements included in the regulations. The concept will be implemented over 2010, 2011 and 2012. Fair play criteria will become mandatory from the beginning of the 2013/14, when the Club Financial Control Panel can start pronouncing sanctions against clubs based on financial statements from the 2011/12 and 2012/13 reporting periods,
Under the financial fair play concept and the regulations, clubs will be encouraged to operate on the basis of their own revenues and not spend more than their income. Clubs should also settle their liabilities with players, authorities and other clubs in a punctual manner. In addition, they will have to provide information about future financial planning.
The result should be a more disciplined approach by clubs towards their finances. Long-term investment favouring youth development and improvement of club installations should take precedence over short-term speculative spending.
Mr Platini underlined that the European Club Association, grouping major European clubs, had asked for the financial fair play rules to be put in place. "The clubs therefore know perfectly well what they will have to face from now on," he explained. "We have had years of anarchy before, and there was a need to put proper rules in place."
Turning to another key issue for UEFA, Gianni Infantino reiterated UEFA's "zero tolerance"policy against betting frauds. He explained that a Betting Fraud Detection System was introduced at UEFA a year ago and that over 29,000 games have since been monitored, from UEFA competitions to European leagues.
Mr Infantino highlighted the difficulties and complex nature of investigations against alleged irregularities, in particular as UEFA is not a legal or governmental body but simply a sports federation with limited jurisdictional power. However UEFA has established close links with police forces all over Europe, and he welcomed the fact that UEFA receives early warnings and can intervene in advance.
One of UEFA's key activities in this respect, the UEFA general secretary said, is to run prevention campaigns at youth level by talking to youngsters and make them aware of the dangers they may be facing as professional footballers.
Meanwhile, preparations are continuing apace for the UEFA EURO 2012 final round in Poland and Ukraine between 8 June and 1 July 2012. "Poland and Ukraine have made great efforts in recent months and things have moved ahead positively," said Mr Platini. "We are very confident that everything will be ready by the set deadlines. To help [Poland and Ukraine], we are deploying as many experts as we can to assist and work with the authorities and local organisers."
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