Uefa to pass 'financial fair play' test

Pa,Martyn Ziegler
Wednesday 26 May 2010 16:01

Manchester United insist they will pass the new UEFA 'financial fair play' test which is set to become part of European football's rules tomorrow.

Under the regulations to be rubber-stamped by UEFA's executive committee tomorrow, clubs in European competition will only be allowed to spend what they earn - although some leeway will be given for the first six years of the scheme.

Clubs will also still be permitted to have large debts, but only if they can service the interest payments as part of their overall spending.

In the Premier League, the new rules would threaten the participation of Manchester City, who made a £93million loss last year, in European competition as well as Chelsea - who made a £47million loss - unless they change their spending habits.

Arsenal and Tottenham both made a profit and would pass the test, and Manchester United claim they would too - despite payments of £45million annually to service the interest on the owners' £507million bond scheme.

United officials have carried out a 'dummy test' of their finances and are sure they would pass.

A United spokesman told Press Association Sport: "We support the financial fair play measures. We are confident that we pass them and that we will continue to do so."

United made a £22million profit last year after interest payments but much of that was due to the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid for £80million.

Even had they made a loss, United say under the UEFA rules they would be able to write off around £38million a year for 'goodwill' payments - an accounting practice that reflects the amount overpaid by the Glazer family to buy the club compared to the paper value of the club's assets.

Furthermore, the interest on the Glazers' PIK (payment in kind) loans will not be taken into account because that is not paid out, but merely added to the debt - they now total £225million.

The new UEFA scheme will come into effect in 2012, although some flexibility is afforded for an introductory period.

Initially, clubs must not return losses of more then 45million euros (£38million) for the 2012-15 period. After 2015, clubs are given a leeway of 30million (£26million) for three-year losses after which the figure will be reduced still further.

If clubs breach the rules then they will not be granted a UEFA club licence to take part in European competitions.

Liverpool could also use the 'goodwill' accounting practice to argue they too should pass the test, and Everton's losses of £7million last season would see the Toffees within the leeway bracket, while in Scotland both Celtic and Rangers should also qualify.

Aston Villa, however, who returned £46million losses last season, would fail the test.

UEFA's intention is for the Football Association and Premier League to rule on which clubs pass the test - in the same way that they now issue UEFA club licences.

The independent Club Financial Control Panel appointed by UEFA would carry out spot checks to ensure that the rules were being implemented correctly.

The financial fair play rules would also prohibit 'sugar daddies' being allowed to pour money into clubs to buy players or fund high wages.

Benefactors would be allowed to make capital investments in their clubs, however, such as building stadiums or youth academies.

UEFA's executive committee meeting in Nyon will not just rule on the financial fair play proposals - on Friday they will vote on the host country of Euro 2016.

France is viewed as the favourite ahead of Turkey with Italy way behind in third.

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