Spendthrift clubs will win if FFP rules are relaxed, claims Arsene Wenger

'It will not affect us at all because we always spend the money we have,' says Arsenal manager

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The Independent Football

Arsène Wenger has admitted that the clubs who have flaunted Uefa’s financial fair play rules were the likely winners from the proposed relaxation of the rules.

The Arsenal manager has always argued for financial restrictions and did so again at his press conference. “I just fight for what looks to me to be logical,” he said, conceding that he “has no problem to lose the battle”, in which he is likely to concede ground this summer.

Wenger did not mention Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain, but those are the clubs who were fined the most by Uefa last year, and who would benefit from the likely relaxation in the amount clubs could spend on transfers in future.

“It will not affect us at all because we always spend the money we have,” Wenger said. “It will affect the clubs who have never respected FFP.”

Uefa’s likely climbdown is a reaction to pressure from clubs who need more room to spend, especially given the size of the Premier League television deal starting in 2016.

“I saw it coming, I got the noises internally,” Wenger admitted. “[There is] resistance in France, in Italy for example, where people want to sell their clubs. If Milan is for sale, and Roma is for sale, people who want to invest money want to make sure they can do what they want with their own money.”

The next Premier League domestic TV deal is worth £5.1bn, and Wenger thinks that has driven clubs in continental Europe to kick against the restrictions, in the hope of attracting new investment. “I believe the television contract in England has pushed some other clubs in Europe to want this to be a bit more flexible for them,” he said, “so they can compete better with investors investing in their clubs.”

Arsène Wenger says Francis Coquelin would be viewed more favourably had he cost a lot (Getty)

Despite what looks like a looming defeat for his side of the argument, Wenger laid out why he supports restrictions on spending. “Because you would like a business to live with its natural resources,” he explained. “You want to protect your business. If somebody comes in tomorrow and goes to Totteridge FC and wants to create a world-class team, puts the money in, and moves away, then Totteridge goes down again. We have to protect the clubs.”

Wenger made a second argument, too, about “fair competition” between clubs. “If you produce cars, and somebody comes in and says, ‘I can sell the cars at half-price for five years just to make you die’, then you die. Other clubs who worked within their normal resources could not compete. It is a Formula One race, where you have ‘Super Formula One’, Formula Three, Four, Five and Six. The days where Nottingham Forest could win the European Cup have gone.”



Arsenal are not one of those clubs whose summer plans are likely to be radically changed by this development. Wenger is not a lavish spender and he said that there would be more enthusiasm for Francis Coquelin’s form in holding midfield had he been an expensive recruit, rather than a long-term project.

“The world has changed,” added Wenger. “The appreciation today of the quality of a player is down to the money you spend. If we had bought Coquelin at Christmas for £40m, everyone would say, ‘what a signing’. He didn’t cost any money; he is still a good player.”

While Coquelin’s form does not preclude Arsenal from signing a new midfielder, Wenger was confident in his competitive spirit. “Nobody would dispute his performances have been convincing,” he said. “He is ready for a fight even if somebody comes in.”