by Stephen Bardsley MBA

On the 23rd May 2014 UEFA president Michel Platini insisted the move to impose financial fair play sanctions against Manchester City is a historic moment for football. Platini told Sky Sports News: ‘The people at Manchester City are not happy, the people of PSG, they are not happy, but I think Manchester United, Everton, they are happy. It’s very subjective. We have to follow the regulations but I think it’s an historical moment and a good moment for football. My wish is not to kill the clubs. We have fair play to help the clubs have better governance’.

It needs to be asked though if UEFA are the organisation that should provide that governance and if they have the financial, legal, corporate governance and business skills to do so. It also needs to be asked if UEFA FFP is the right tool to achieve its stated objectives and if those objectives will be good in the long run for European football. UEFA have become the self-appointed financial police force of European football and they and their Chief Inspector Michel Platini are revelling in their new roles. FFP is supposedly about “introducing more discipline and rationality in club football finances” for the fear that some Clubs may place themselves under severe financial stress trying to keep up with the competition. Does UEFA have the credentials to be able to do this? Are they going about it in the right way to ensure FFP meets it stated objectives? Are those objectives the right ones?


Why do UEFA believe they are qualified not only in football administration, but also in European legal, financial and matters of corporate governance? What makes UEFA believe they are better qualified to manage club finances than the clubs themselves?  The reality is the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation that has decided it is qualified to place financial and other restrictions on clubs to ensure they operate at close to financial break-even, this by introducing a system it refers to as Financial Fair Play (FFP). The rationale UEFA puts forward for these controls is that FFP is designed to create a fair and properly regulated system of financial management.

The questions arise, is UEFA qualified or capable of better managing the finances and management of European football clubs than the clubs are themselves? Can the system they have designed meet its objectives? Are the objectives what is required to “save” European football?  The answers appears to be a resounding no to every question. What does appear remarkable is that UEFA are eager to criticise the financial management capabilities of many European Football Clubs and want to step in and control their spending, yet UEFA itself reported huge financial losses of €66 Million in 2009/10 and further losses of €86 Million in 2010/11.  The UEFA Executive Committee will no doubt say in both years they had a positive operating result and the overall results were negatively influenced by currency exchange rates and the use of derivative financial instruments that were supposed to hedge risk that somehow didn’t achieve the required results. The reality is the UEFA financial statements show huge losses, losses far greater than the FFP losses they are willing to allow the Clubs competing in their Champions and Europa League competitions.

Having demonstrated the ability to lose huge sums of money year upon year UEFA hardly appear qualified to advise football clubs or indeed anyone else on how to manage their finances, yet UEFA propose they will take control and end what they refer to as “the financial indiscipline of European football”. Whatever the reasons for UEFA introducing FFP, it needs to be established if its goals and objectives are sound, if UEFA is capable of administering such a scheme and if FFP is allowed to continue in its current format is it likely to do more harm than good for European Football, the Clubs participating in the European Champions and Europa League Competitions and those who may aspire to do so?


UEFA have stated that the need for them to introduce a system of financial controls on the clubs desiring to participate in either of their two competitions, the European Champions League and the Europa League are  because:

“Many clubs have experienced liquidity shortfalls, leading for instance to delayed payments to other clubs, employees and social/tax authorities.

Therefore, as requested by the football family, and in consultation with the football family, UEFA is introducing sensible and achievable measures to realise these goals.

They include an obligation for clubs, over a period of time, to balance their books or break even. Under the concept, clubs cannot repeatedly spend more than their generated revenues, and clubs will be obliged to meet all their transfer and employee payment commitments at all times.

Higher-risk clubs that fail certain indicators will also be required to provide budgets detailing their strategic plans.”

The above statement from UEFA creates more questions than it answers and appears to be at odds with the reality of not only football, but also free competition. Some of those questions are:

Who are the so-called “football family” UEFA has consulted with and is introducing Financial Fair Play (FFP) at the request of?

Are the “measures” contained within FFP “reasonable” and can they lead to the stated goals being achieved?

Is there really a problem in Europe with Clubs not meeting their transfer and employee payment obligations and if so aren’t there laws to prevent and govern this without the requirement for UEFA to interfere?

If UEFA are so concerned with the financial well-being of football Clubs, why do they allow many Clubs with huge debts to compete in their competitions without taking sanctions against them?

Are the clubs UEFA have targeted for sanctions really high those posing the highest risks to football and are they unable to meet their financial and legal obligations when operating the business of a football club?

In reality is UEFA FFP nothing more than a series of restrictions of trade that favours the established European football clubs already playing in UEFA competitions, whilst discriminating against the less successful clubs who are new to or may aspire to play in these competitions?

Importantly; is there a better way, one which would assist the lower Club’s, this rather than attempting to drag down the wealthier Clubs? This surely would be a better proposition if the real goal of FFP is to benefit and improve the financial condition of European football.

Manchester City is one of the Club’s UEFA has taken the big stick to, yet it is a Club that has no problem meeting its debts, paying its taxes, paying its players, paying other clubs for its transfers, paying its employees. It is a club that just a few years ago was a financial basket case, but now has a demonstrated trend of reducing it losses, is on plan to reach break-even in the coming season and is debt free. City has jumped 3 places upwards on the Brand Finance “Brand Value Table” and are now the 5th most valuable brand of any European Club at €374 Million. Six years ago City were not in the top 10 so now  hardly appears in need of financial advice from UEFA, an organisation with a recent trend of amassing annual financial losses. Let’s take a look at both organisations to ascertain if all is actually FFP.

UEFA reported financial losses 4 out of the last 5 years.

Not-for-profit organisations can make profits providing they are used towards achieving the organisations stated purpose(s), other than this requirement they have much in common with for-profit organisations and so business management techniques appropriate in the for-profit world work well in not-for-profit organisations. Not-for-profit organisations certainly should not make regular losses and in this regard are subject to virtually the same rules as any ordinary for-profit business. UEFA has reported losses in 4 out of the last five years, the only profit in this period occurred during the year of their EURO 2012 competition.

UEFA frequently advise (usually each time they report another loss) that their financial performance should not be judged on an annual basis, but should be examined over a four year cycle, this so receipts from their European Championship competition can be taken into consideration. Of course when administering FFP they do not allow such a generously long accounting cycle for the football clubs, such a privilege is granted by themselves to themselves. Yet even so as the graph above shows, even when UEFA’s annual losses are considered over a four year period it makes little difference to the usual result, in that UEFA reports losses year after year and these are not recovered in the year the UEFA European Championship takes place.

Let’s do the math for UEFA; annual losses for the three years from 2008/09 to 2010/11 = €180 Million, positive result for 2011/12 = €129 Million, accrued loss over the four year period = €51 Million. Demonstrating a sustained period of annual losses, any improvement in sight? Well if you care to call another loss of €21 Million an improvement in 2012/13 (which UEFA do) then perhaps so. Actual total accumulated losses over a five year period = €72 Million. Hardly a glowing financial report card and one which demonstrates UEFA cannot clear their accumulated losses even when granted the four year accounting period they request. The figures suggest If UEFA was a football team playing in their own competitions they would be facing sanctions, heavy fines, reductions in the amount they can pay their staff, squad size restrictions, reductions in prize money and possible expulsion from UEFA competitions.

One of the managers UEFA had in charge of FFP is the recently deceased Jean-Luc Dehaene, who was in charge of the Dexia Bank and which in 2008 had to be bailed out by Belgian and French taxpayers to the tune of more than €6 Billion and was taken over by the Belgian Government. How could UEFA believe such a person should be in charge of FFP?  Why does UEFA an organisation which has a trend of losses heading the wrong way, now insist on acting as the financial regulator of European football? What on earth makes UEFA believe it is qualified to financially interfere with clubs finances, to supposedly bring to an end what they refer to as the “financial indiscipline and excesses” of the Clubs that compete in their competitions?

UEFA’s answer is to be seen coming down hard on a Club like Manchester City. Perhaps because this will show the World UEFA means business and will grab plenty of attention as they are seen to punish a team that due to supposed financial indiscipline and excesses have won the English Premier League title twice in three years, along with an FA Cup, a League Cup and a Community Shield, none of these trophies by the way administered by UEFA. Is Manchester City a credible target for UEFA FFP sanctions? As we have examined the financial performance of UEFA and discovered a disturbing downward trend of losses, let’s now examine the financial performance of MCFC and establish if they need any financial advice from UEFA.

A question is; are UEFA’s punitive actions and sanctions against MCFC justifiable under the stated objectives of UEFA FFP? Will they achieve any of these objectives as far as Manchester City is concerned? If not are there clubs in worse financial positions that should have been sanctioned by UEFA (if that would make any sense)? If so, why weren’t they, whilst Manchester City were? Let’s look at the alleged “indiscipline and excesses” of Manchester City, which have supposedly warranted punishment that include massive fines, squad size restrictions and player sanctions amongst other things.

●  Is Manchester City a Club that has jeopardised the financial health of European Football?

●  Has Manchester City marred the game or endangered its own existence by overspending?

●  Is Manchester City an “unstable” Football Club?

●  Has Manchester City ever looked like not paying its bills?

Because if not and MCFC can demonstrate they already have put in place a financial plan that demonstrates a proven trend of reducing losses, a plan that that will lead to a break-even point within the next financial period and profitability thereafter, then surely UEFA need to accept their FFP system has unfairly targeted a financially sound Football Club. A Club which voluntarily signed up for FFP, tried and believed it had met all its obligations as required and importantly has proven it does not need to take any financial advice from an organisation that itself hasn’t demonstrated the same level of financial discipline and competence.

We can see from the MCFC financial performance graph on the previous page, that contrary to UEFA’s trend of increasing losses, the trend for Manchester City’s is one of significantly reducing losses. This is in line with the Club’s stated intention of achieving break-even in 2014/15. The reduction in losses is in fact quite remarkable and there is no other Club in the Premier League that has demonstrated an ability to reduce losses so rapidly and importantly not achieving this with the aid of cash injections from their wealthy owners, but by increasing revenues massively and running the business of MCFC in a highly professional and competent manner. This was always the plan of City’s owners ADUG, they did not require any “encouragement” from UEFA. City’s owners may be wealthy but they are certainly not fools with money to waste. Their investment in MCFC is exactly that, an investment in the future, a perfectly normal business venture, identifying an existing business which with the aid of investment can become bigger, better and repay the original investment with interest.

The only thing the fines imposed on MCFC by UEFA could hope to achieve is to actually limit Club’s progress and delay the point at which the break-even position will be achieved. The concept of fining a Club to help them reduce their losses is absurd, yet this is how UEFA FFP operates. Even if not designed to be so, FFP is effectively a thinly veneered initiative restricting the level of investment a club’s owner can make to challenge the established European teams. Established teams such as Arsenal and Manchester United support the sanctions against clubs such as MCFC and in doing so show the absurdity of FFP. In its current format FFP is an initiative allows the already successful Clubs to arrogantly insist any potential new opponents be punished for having the aspiration to compete at the top level and challenging the opposition. In the business world this may be referred to as collusion, a business activity rarely if ever condoned.

Debt vs Turnover, Premier League Clubs 2012/13

The two graphs above show Manchester City is one of the strongest financially positioned Clubs in the Premier League. Compared with all other Clubs it is has one of the lowest debts and one of the highest turnovers. This report has shown Manchester City has demonstrated a trend of reducing debt and is financially one of the strongest positioned football clubs in all of Europe. How can then UEFA claim FFP is effective in achieving its stated objective of “improving the overall financial health of European club football” when it punishes Manchester City and yet turns a blind eye to debt ridden clubs like Chelsea and Manchester United? In this regard FFP does not and will never meet its stated objectives.

Endangered Existence?

UEFA state the FFP system is to end the financial indiscipline and excesses that endanger the existence of many Clubs, such indiscipline and excesses usually mean a Club is spending more than it earns, more than it has and has also not made arrangements for anyone to cover the difference. In fact the world does not need UEFA to solve this problem, it is illegal to knowingly trade whilst insolvent and adequate laws are already in place throughout the world to prevent and discourage this. There is no need for UEFA to masquerade as the financial savior of European Football by claiming it will prevent Club’s going into debt. In fact, in contrary to its stated purpose UEFA FFP appears quite content to ignore the financial indiscipline and excesses of Clubs such as Chelsea and Manchester United which continue to fail to fully service their huge debts.

As shown in the Debt vs Turnover graphs, Manchester City’s debt is extremely low and there are ten other Clubs with larger debts, five of them that also have recently played in the UEFA Champions League. Of particular concern is Chelsea, which has a debt an incredible 17.5 times that of Manchester City. Manchester United also have debts 5.5 times greater than City. United’s interest payment on debt just for the 2012/13 financial year alone was £72 Million, far more than City’s total accumulated debts. Liverpool has debts twice that of Manchester City, yet whereas UEFA claim a purpose of FFP is to end the financial indiscipline that has marred the game, they turn a blind eye to the debt ridden clubs that have traditionally played in in UEFA competitions and instead make an example of Manchester City, a Club with the one of the lowest debts, highest turnovers and brightest financial futures in the Premier League.

One might ask could this be because other Clubs have shown a willingness and ability to reduce debt and Manchester City has not? This would certainly an appropriate question, but the answer is that no other Club has been able to demonstrate an ability and willingness to reduce its accrued and annual debts than has Manchester City. Not only that, Manchester City have reduced their annual debt in each of the last three years and is firmly on track to meet the goal of reaching break even in 2014/15 and generate profits thereafter. UEFA’s targeting of Manchester City is not t FFP, as City is not practicing financial indiscipline, it is one of the few Clubs able to demonstrate its ability to become totally self-sufficient from its own earnings. The responsible financial management practices of Manchester City cannot be seen as endangering themselves or any Club. UEFA need to become more financially savvy and appreciate debt is not always bad, otherwise nobody would have a mortgage, it is the inability to service debt that is a problem. Manchester City has demonstrated it is now well on the way to servicing its debt from its earnings, the Club has the 6th largest income in football, not just in Britain but the whole of Europe. UEFA must amend FFP or administer it in a better or different way. Perhaps UEFA may wish to consider handing over the administration of FFP to a different association or organisation, perhaps an organisation with sound financial credentials. Under the present structure and administration FFP fails to meet its stated objectives and some of those objectives appear unsound and also unfit for purpose.


It is obvious Manchester City is a financially sound club, it is one of the wealthiest Club in all of European football, has one of the smallest debts and one of the highest financial turnovers. The Club has demonstrated an ability to reduce debt over the last three consecutive years and this with money the Club has actually earned. City has a sound financial plan that sees it will meet financial break-even in the next accounting period and considering the progress already made, there is no reason to doubt this. There are very few football clubs in England or Europe that have performed financially as well as Manchester City.
Yet many worse financially performing Clubs that have amassed huge debts and have shown either no ability or inclination to reduce debt have not been penalised by UEFA. Why then has Manchester City been deemed by UEFA as failing their FFP requirements when worse financially positioned Clubs have not?

Under section 5.1.11 of the UEFA BE09 (Break Even Package) there are some “transactional factors” which can be included in the break-even test, including the exclusion of employee benefit expenses (wages) paid to players already on the books prior to the 1st June 2010. This is an area City should have been able to take advantage with £80 Million in this category and so if allowed by UEFA they would easily have pass the break- even test. UEFA however built in the following catch:

Condition (ii): reason for the aggregate break-even deficit exceeding the acceptable deviation

b) “the break-even deficit of the reporting period ending in 2012 is due to contracts entered with players before 1 June 2010; i.e. the employee benefit expenses reported in FY12 due to players under contract before 1 June 2010 are equal or higher than the deficit of the reporting period ending in 2012.”

In other words the wages can only be excluded from the beak-even test providing their total amount is at least equal to, or greater than the loss reported by the Club for the 2011/12 season. A totally irrational clause, meaning City should have paid their players more in 2011/12 to have more chance of passing the break-even test. This is an example of how UEFA appear unqualified to manage FFP, which in its current format just doesn’t work.

It’s also difficult to ascertain why UEFA deemed City failed this requirement, one possible explanation is City’s annual report for 2011/12 shows a loss of £97.86 Million, the wages paid to the pre 2010 players was £80 Million, less than City’s loss and so they cannot be excluded from the break even calculation. City however claimed under FFP guidelines £20 Million could be deducted from the reported £97.86 loss. This meant City’s loss would be £77.86 Million, as the player wages are greater at £80 Million they could be excluded from the break-even test and City should have easily passed the test. It appears UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) disallowed some if not all of the allowances claimed by City, meaning the £80 Million in wages was less than City’s losses and could not be excluded from the break even test.

Even then the battle with the UEFA would not have been over, as they examined items of income, such as Image Rights payments to see if they represented ‘Relevant Income’. If these were also disallowed City’s annual loss would be even greater. City were on a hiding to nothing, UEFA had them firmly in their sights and pulled the trigger. City failed the break-even test on technicalities, believing and still believing they had passed the test. UEFA were determined to make an example of City as big club, a big scalp and now Platini is bragging about his “achievement”. One would suspect Football is the only business in the world where FFP would be tolerated, both financially and ethically. When City’s owners invested hundreds of Million £’s to clear debt, invested in infra- structure, youth development and the local community, UEFA chased them down for not earning enough or for spending too much. City sacrificed earnings to keep the price of season tickets low and so effectively UEFA punished them for this. UEFA however demonstrated little concern for football fans, when the high ticket prices for the 2011 Champions League final were widely criticised, UEFA’s response was, “that’s the market price. Why should we sell them for less?” The free market obviously being OK when it benefits UEFA. This illustrates is the hypocrisy of UEFA and shows why UEFA is not the organisation to manage any system of FFP.

ADUG’s investment created success on and off the football field, created record turnover and provided the platform for City to recover from a financial basket case with huge debt to become a Club able to shortly achieve financial break-even. Yet they are punished by UEFA which turns a blind eye to clubs with huge debts and owners that regularly take funds out of their club. It can be seen in spite of Platini’s glee, FFP does not work, the scheme penalises financially sound clubs, whilst allowing less financially responsible clubs to continue to amass further debt. But that begins to explain what UEFA FFP is actually about, let’s take a look.


The Manchester City example shows FFP is not really about introducing financial discipline to prevent Clubs from amassing huge debt, so what is it about? UEFA seem to chop and change some ideas on what the principal objectives of FFP really are, their latest statement of the 21st March 2014 states they intend to :

●  Improve the economic and financial capability of Clubs
●  Increase transparency and credibility
● Improve governance standards in football
●  Encourage clubs to operate on the basis of their own revenues
●  Introduce more discipline and rationality in club finances
●  Protect the integrity and smooth running of UEFA club competitions
●  Encourage responsible spending for the long term benefit of football
●  Protect the long term viability of European Club football

To improve the economic and financial capability of Clubs?

Looking at the Manchester City example it seem implausible UEFA can even begin to claim FFP will improve the economic and financial capability of clubs, unless it is referring to the capability to amass debts as have  Chelsea,  Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal, all have massive debts many times greater than City.

To Increase transparency and credibility?

It’s hard to believe UEFA can judge City as not to be transparent or credible. MCFC is proprietary limited company in the United Kingdom and must by law submit accurate annual financial reports. As for being credible, it depends what UEFA means by “credibility”. Manchester City with a three year trend of reducing net losses certainly appears more credible than UEFA’s with a five year trend of increasing net losses

Improve governance standards in football?

It is preposterous UEFA as an organisation with a five year trend of generating financial losses believes it is capable of improving governance standards, they would do well to look more closely in their own back yard.

Encourage clubs to operate on the basis of their own revenues

Is this legally within the jurisdiction of UEFA? Even if it is, why include the cost of players in FFP? Ensuring a team can pay players wages from their own revenues makes sense, but limiting how many players they can buy or how much they pay for them does not. Like any business a football club should be able to buy assets to improve performance, the assets belong to the business, to be bought, sold and utilised as best for the business. Providing the business can afford the assets, even if the cash comes from the owners own pockets has nothing to do with anyone other than the owners. It doesn’t stop there though, UEFA are not content with unleashing FFP on just football but are so arrogant to state: “Indeed the principals underlying FFP could serve with adaptations, as an effective model for other sports facing similar financial challenges”. Only history will show how many other sports look upon the loss making UEFA as their financial planning savior.

Introduce more discipline and rationality in club finances?

The owners of City have been totally rational with their investment and have achieved a remarkable financial turn-around and success on the field, winning the English premier League twice in three seasons, along with the FA Cup, the League Cup and a Community Shield, money well spent by any standards. The financial discipline at MCFC has seen debt reduce at an amazing rate and at the same time City has achieved very significant increases in annual turnover. Manchester City is in fact a financial success story and this has been achieved without the “assistance” of UEFA FFP.

Protect the integrity and smooth running of UEFA club competitions?

A well supported, financially well managed club with no debt like City is no threat to either UEFA’s integrity or its ability to smoothly run football competitions. In this regard UEFA appears its own threat.

Encourage responsible spending for the long term benefit of football?

Now we are getting to the crux of the matter, in that UEFA with their FFP are the self-appointed guardians of European football (and other sports if they had their way). It appears not only audacious but also rather grandiose of UEFA to presume that as an organisation with a trend of achieving repeated financial losses, they should feel qualified to lecture football clubs on financial management and responsible spending.
To infer that ADUG’s or Manchester City’s spending has been irresponsible is a matter not for UEFA, they should stick to managing football competitions. The owners of Manchester City have been totally responsible with their spending and in fact can be seen to have made very astute financial investments that will shortly reward them with significant profits. The responsible spending by Manchester City has seen debt reduced significantly whilst at the same time achieving incredible increases in turnover. Manchester City is a financial success story and their revival both financially and out on the football field will be of long term benefit to both English and European football, as it would if other struggling clubs were able to achieve the same success. This now appears unlikely due to UEFA’s high handed approach with the implementation and management of the inappropriately named FFP. There is nothing fair about a system that allows established clubs like Chelsea to compete in UEFA competitions with teams built by amassing huge debts, yet demanding new entrants must operate within financial limitations and debts so small they have little opportunity to invest in new players and the future of their Club, that is not fairness, it is out and out bias.

Protect the long term viability of European Club football?

We saved the best till last, because this is in fact what UEFA FFP is all about, in fact it is virtually its sole objective, almost everything else about FFP is just smoke, springs and mirrors. FFP is about protecting the long term viability of the established European football UEFA want to protect. FFP allows them to do this by ensuring new kids on the block cannot spend more than they earn, but ensuring they must compete with established Clubs who have amassed tens and sometimes hundreds of millions in debt to build formidable football teams. It’s obvious in this regard there is nothing fair about UEFA’s FFP.


Make no mistake Manchester City has and will for the next two seasons be massively disadvantaged by UEFA FFP and Platini is gloating at this “achievement”. The consequences for City are far greater than may first seem. City will have a reduced squad size and a greater reliance on “home grown” players competing in the European Champions League. The big kicker however is the restriction on the net amount City can spend on players. This is because although this is likely to weaken the team for the 13 games it may play next season in the European Champions League (if City go all the way and win it), the squad will also be potentially weakened for far more games outside of Europe, including 38 games in the premier league and up to a further 15 games in other competitions including the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Community Shield. Therefore for the privilege of playing a maximum of 13 games in the European Champions League, the UEFA sanctions can affect up to 53 games (without any replays) that City may play outside of Europe.

The real price Manchester City will pay due to the UEFA FFP sanctions, is for each game they might play in the European Champions League, the sanctions they face can affect up to four games outside of European football. It’s a 4 game for 1 sanction, which no matter how you slice it just doesn’t seem to be fair play!


Attempts to artificially influence a free market are not only difficult, but usually unwise, economists generally believe in the “free market”. Allowing market prices to be determined by the dynamic interaction of supply and demand is the basic premise of conservative economics. Any deliberate attempt to interfere with the free and fair operation of financial markets to create an artificially high or low value for any type of commodity or currency is in most civilised economies prohibited, such unfair play may indeed be judged as “market manipulation” an illegal activity. The EEU also has strict rules regarding the free movement of workers within Europe, so UEFA FFP home grown player rules and punishments by way of squad restrictions may if challenged be judged as contravening European labour laws. It is obvious in spite of its repeated financial losses UEFA appears to consider itself as a financial and regulatory giant, a law unto itself and even more frightening  is they have self-appointed themselves as judge, jury and executioner.
Platini may continue to gloat even though City has demonstrated to UEFA it is a club committed to a sustainable future, based on sound financial management, a willingness and ability to meet all, not just its financial obligations. A Club doing more for football than perhaps any other, with significant investment in their academy, catering for up to 400 young players, with 16 football pitches, a 7,000 capacity stadium for youth matches and on-site accommodation and that to achieve this long-term ambition, youth development must be, and is, our top priority.”

Manchester City Chairman Al Mubarak said:

“Six years ago, we started a journey. When we invested in the club, it was 20th in terms of revenues among the clubs in Europe. It was very challenged, it had a lot of debts, poor infrastructure & had difficulties attracting talented players to compete & win leagues, whether domestically or European. Over six years, step by step, we have invested in this club. We have invested in the stadium, in the best youth facilities in Europe.”

That journey has only just begun, Manchester City’s story is the dream of every underdog, of every poor relation, of every football club, that has lived in the shadow of their rivals, the City story shows you can dare to dream, dare to live in hope and dare to believe that than one day you can achieve greatness, rise to the top and be the best team in the land. That dream no matter how unlikely it may have appeared just six years ago actually occurred, right there in an unprivileged corner of East Manchester. Football Clubs and their fans all over the world watched as Manchester City found a benefactor that believed in the Club as much as the fans did, they together dared to believe that after more than 40 years in the wilderness they could within just a few short years win the premier league title and go on to achieve greatness.

A real consequence of UEFA’s FFP is it will change the game, taking influence from the managers and the coaches, handing it to accountants, it’s going to be more about the numbers than the game of football.
Also for many clubs it will kill their dreams, not for Manchester City, who have built a team of owners, players, managers, coaches and fans that will see them remain a football power for years to come, but killing the dreams of aspiring football clubs. Unless radically reformed FFP will strip the heart out of European football. FFP it will condemn those who may have dared to ever dream of achieving greatness to live with the terror that if they ever do, then an appointment with the self-appointed financial henchman of European football will be imminent, who will be waiting with their financial handcuffs to restrain them and to gleefully hand out punishment that will beat the hope and dreams out of them. The crime of these football clubs? To try their best, to attempt to achieve greatness, but along the way being found guilty of upsetting the status quo UEFA is determined to protect on behalf of their “football family” at any cost, social, ethical or to the overall good of the game of football.

Stephen Bardsley is FFP sceptic, a retired Managing Director and a Master of Business Administration (MBA), graduating with distinction in finance and economics and has been a Manchester City fan for fifty years.