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?
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

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future