Uefa's financial fair play rules face test from the 'Bosman' lawyer

Wealthy clubs will watch legal challenge driven by Jean-Louis Dupont with interest

Big-spending clubs opposed to the Uefa's financial fair play regulations were dealt an unexpected boost yesterday when an official challenge to the rules was lodged at the European Commission, in a case to be pursued by the Bosman case lawyer who dealt the governing body a major blow 18 years ago.

The complaint, lodged by Belgium-registered agent Daniel Striani, will force the Commission to mount a painstaking assessment of whether the Uefa President Michel Platini's FFP regime is an illegal restriction on his potential income. The Striani case does have potential to derail a system central to Platini's vision for the game.

Striani, who has represented a number of Premier League players, is represented by the lawyer Jean Louis-Dupont – who in 1995 defeated both Uefa and the Commission to prove that football's contract system denied Belgian player Jean-Marc Bosman freedom of movement. Dupont is ready to take his case to the European Court of Justice if necessary.

Legal specialists believe it may take five years for Striani's case to be dealt with. But European clubs, including Manchester City and Chelsea, will be watching with great interest a legal case which will be based in part on the assertion that FFP is unfair because it preserves the existing dominance of clubs like Manchester United and Arsenal by preventing newcomers to run-up losses while they break in. Dupont first revealed last month that he believed FFP, which has demanded clubs entering European competitions move towards break-even since 2011, was anti-competitive and open to legal challenge.

Uefa General Secretay, Gianni Infantino, was dismissive of Dupont's claim that FFP was legally questionable, when he was asked about it at the SoccerEx convention in Manchester last month. Infantino said that he and Michel Platini had visited Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, and received assurances about the new regime, which means clubs must operate within their means. "We are not worried about it," Infantino said of Dupont's suggestion. "First, because we have the best lawyers working for us. But also because FFP has been agreed by all of the clubs, associations and the European Commission. These haven't been imposed."

The European Club Association has, indeed, signed up to FFP – a reason why clubs are unable to mount legal challenges to the regime themselves. But that will not be enough to halt the Striani challenge. "This is significant," Daniel Geey, a competition and football law specialist at the firm Field Fisher Waterhouse, said last night. "The EC has always said in the background that it supports the objectives of FFP. Now it must undertake an objective assessment of whether, among other things, FFP is anti-competitive. The complaint will either be upheld, leading the Commission into negotiations with Uefa and possible formal proceedings, or be rejected which could lead to a further court challenge. Either way, this won't be a quick process and in the meantime Uefa will make licensing decisions based on the FFP break-even regulations."

Dupont will outline five effects of FFP which he claims are anti-competitive, claiming that the "break-even rule" will restrict investment in clubs; that it will entrench the existing status quo; reduce the number of transfers and therefore dampen salary levels of players. Ultimately he will argue that it will affect Striani's own income.

Kick-off 7.45pm

Referee P Dowd (Staffordshire)

Odds: Man City 2-5 Draw 9-2 WBA 9-1

Lukaku will be world-beater, says Kompany

The Manchester City captain, Vincent Kompany, is relishing the prospect of locking horns with his Belgian compatriot Romelu Lukaku when the Blues host West Bromwich tonight.

Lukaku, 19, has been in fine form following his season-long loan move from Chelsea to Albion, scoring 14 goals and earning a nomination for the PFA Young Player of the Year award.

Kompany said: "Romelu is probably one of the biggest talents in Europe at the moment. He will be a world-beater in England very soon. I am looking forward to playing against him."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works