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what is financial fair play in football

What Is Financial Fair Play In Football? [The Definitive Guide]

Last Updated on May 7, 2022

Financial Fair Play is a common term in football but in truth, not every football fan understands what it means.

The talk about Financial Fair Play rules comes up often because clubs like Manchester City and PSG are accused of breaking the FFP rule.

Recently, Valencia coach wondered how Barca were able to afford Ferran Torres (for €55 M) and their plan to sign Halaan without breaking the FFP rule despite Barca’s current debt status.

In 2014, both Manchester City and PSG were fined €60 million, got their squad reduced to 21 players for UEFA competitions, their transfers spending and squad salary were severely restricted.

These types of stories are common. So, it is necessary to ask the question again – what is financial fair play in football?

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What is Financial Fair Play In Football?

Simply put, without boring you with unnecessary details, Financial Fair Play Rule football governs football clubs such that they do not spend more than they make.

In addition, the FFP rule also ensures that football clubs balance their books, manage their losses and debts within a specific timeframe, and pay up important expenses (like players’ salaries.)

Also, it must also be mentioned that the FFP rule was initiated by UEFA (not FIFA.)

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Why UEFA Initiated the FFP Rule in Football

UEFA believes that they are “protecting the game” by implementing the Financial Fair Play rule in football. How?

There were “serious and worsening financial conditions in European club football“. So, in a bid to make the situation better, UEFA initiated the Financial Fairplay Rule.

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List of Clubs Punished By UEFA For Breaking FFP Rule

SNClubOrigin NationPunishmentDate
1VojvodinaSerbiafined €10,000December 21, 2012
2Arsenal KyivUkrainefined €45,000December 21, 2012
3OsijekCroatiafined €100,000December 21, 2012
4Dinamo BucureștiRomaniafined €100,000December 21, 2012
5Rapid BucureștiRomaniafined €100,000. They were handed a one-season ban from European competitionDecember 21, 2012
6Hajduk SplitCroatiafined €40,000December 21, 2012
7MalagaSpainfined €300,000 and handed a one-season ban from European competitionMarch 31, 2013
8Astra PloieștiRomaniawithheld prize money for not paying outstanding paymentsSeptember 20, 2013
9Metalurh DonetskUkraineHanded a one-season ban from European competition and fined €80,000December 20, 2013
10SkontoLatviaHanded a one-season ban from European competition and fined €40,000December 20, 2013
11TrabzonsporTurkeywithheld prize money for not paying outstanding paymentsSeptember 20, 2013
12Zrinjski MostarBosnia and Herzegovinawithheld prize money for not paying outstanding paymentsSeptember 20, 2013
13Petrolul PloieștiRomaniahanded a one-season ban from European competition and fined €50,000December 20, 2013
14Pandurii Târgu JiuRomaniafined €40,000December 20, 2013
15Śląsk WrocławPolandfined €20,000December 20, 2013
16Anzhi MakhachkalaRussiafined €2 million, of which €1 million was suspended. Squad for UEFA competitions reduced to 21 players, and one-year squad salary restrictions imposedMay 16, 2014
17BursasporTurkeyfined €200,000 fine, and one-year squad salary restrictions imposedMay 16, 2014
18GalatasarayTurkeyfined €200,000, and one-year squad salary restrictions imposedMay 16, 2014
19Levski SofiaBulgariafined €200,000, and one-year squad salary restrictions imposedMay 16, 2014
20Rubin KazanRussiafined €6 million, of which €3 million was suspended. Squad for UEFA competitions reduced to 21 players, and transfer spending restrictions and two-year squad salary restrictions imposedMay 16, 2014
21TrabzonsporTurkeyfined €200,000, and one-year squad salary restrictions imposedMay 16, 2014
22Zenit Saint PetersburgRussiafined €12 million fine, of which €6 million was suspended. Squad for UEFA competitions reduced to 22 players, and transfer spending restrictions and two-year squad salary restrictions were imposedMay 16, 2014
23Paris Saint-GermainFrancefind €60 million, of which €40 million was suspended. Squad for UEFA competitions reduced to 21 players, and transfer spending restrictions and two-year squad salary restrictions imposedMay 16, 2014
24Manchester CityEnglandfined €60 million, of which €40 million was suspended. Squad for UEFA competitions reduced to 21 players, and transfer spending restrictions and two-year squad salary restrictions imposedMay 16, 2014
25AstanaKazakhstanfined €2 million, of which €1.5 million was suspended. Squad for UEFA competitions reduced to 22 players, and transfer spending restrictions were imposed. Required to break even by 2018May 20, 2016
26Dinamo ZagrebCroatiafined €200,000. Squad for UEFA competitions reduced to 23 players and required to break even by 2016May 20, 2016
27FenerbahçeTurkeyfined €7.5 million, of which €5.5 million was suspended. Squad for UEFA competitions reduced to 22 players. Transfer spending restrictions imposed, required to reach a defined employee benefit expenses to revenue ratio, and required to break even by 2019May 20, 2016
28TrabzonsporTurkeyfined €2 million, of which €1 million was suspended. Squad for UEFA competitions reduced to 22 players. Transfer spending restrictions imposed, required to reach a defined employee benefit expenses to revenue ratio, and required to break even by 2018May 20, 2016
29AC MilanItalybanned from European competitions for a yearJune 28, 2019

Value of FFP Rule in Football

In truth, the FFP rule has helped football in many ways. Let us highlight some of them.

  • Without the FFP rule, clubs can afford to go into debt uncontrollably.
  • In reality, football clubs that truly comply with the FFp rules look more “financially responsible” than others.
  • Ideally, there should be economic and financial stability among clubs that follow the FFP rules.
  • Clubs are forced to operate within how much they make.
  • Lenders are protected because the FFP rule ensures that football clubs pay their debts.

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Criticism of The FFP Rule

Of course, the Financial Fair Play rule is not perfect. While the motive of inventing the rule itself is positive, many football clubs and experts have criticized the FFP rule.

  • The Financial Fair Play Rule is accused of favoring only the rich clubs while smaller clubs are not protected by the rule.
  • As we’ve seen in the table above, most of the clubs punished for the FFP rule are small clubs.
  • Club owners now try to outsmart the rules by manipulating their books just to pass the “FFP test”.

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