Undermining financial fair play and infringing on fair competition

Question

The 2012 financial fair play (FFP) agreement between the Commission and UEFA was designed to create a level playing field to enable European football clubs to compete fairly with one another.

The central pillar of FFP is the principle that a club’s sports-related expenses should align with its revenues. This goal is in line with the objectives of European state aid rules, which provide that operators cannot gain an extra advantage through public subsidies.

However, both the FFP agreement and its rules are being undermined by some football clubs, such as PSG, which has made some very expensive transfer purchases, e.g. Neymar and Mbappé, by means of a ‘taking on loan’ construction. UEFA has already launched an investigation into such practices.

  1. What is the Commission’s assessment of the aforementioned agreement in the light of recent developments regarding signing players on loan? Does it share the view that these practices undermine the purpose of the agreement?
  2. Does it agree that a level playing field in European football competitions can no longer be guaranteed if the agreement is being undermined in this way?
  3. Does it agree that the ownership of European football clubs by authorities or agencies which have (financial) ties with (third country) governments may constitute an infringement against the principle of fair competition?

Answer

The Commission is examining complaints concerning the financial fair play rules of the Union of European Football Associations and their implementation. The Commission monitors all relevant developments in this field and it is in contact with the stakeholders. However, it cannot provide further insight as regards the issue at hand as there is an open investigation ongoing.

As regards ownership of European football clubs by authorities or agencies with ties with governments, EU State aid rules apply to aid measures granted by Member States or through Member State resources. Aid measures for professional football clubs – which are undertakings engaged in economic activities – may distort competition. They are therefore subject to State aid control.

The Commission has previously adopted several decisions concerning aid to football clubs. Non-confidential versions of Commission State aid decisions are published in the State Aid Register) on the Commission website[1].

[1]    http://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/register/

 

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