Editor's Note: Christopher is an editor of the Asser International Sports Law Blog. His research interests cover a spectrum of sports law topics, with a focus on financial regulatory disputes, particularly in professional football, a topic on which he has regularly lectured at the University of the West of England.
It is five years since the Union of
European Football Associations (UEFA) formally introduced ‘Financial Fair Play’
(FFP) into European football through its Club
Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations, Edition 2012. With FFP having now been in
place for a number of years, we are in a position to analyse its effect, its
legality, and how the rules have altered over the last half decade in response
to legal challenges and changing policy priorities. This article is split into
three parts: The first will look at the background, context and law applicable
to FFP; Part Two will look at the legal challenges FFP has faced; and Part
Three will look at how FFP has iteratively changed, considering its normative
impact, and the future of the rules. More...
On 12 January 2017 UEFA published its eighth club licensing benchmarking report on European
football, concerning the financial
year of 2015. In the press release that accompanied the report, UEFA proudly announced
that Financial Fair Play (FFP) has had a huge positive impact on European
football, creating a more stable financial environment. Important findings included
a rise of aggregate operating profits of €1.5bn in the last two years, compared
to losses of €700m in the two years immediately prior to the introduction of
Financial Fair Play.
eighth club licensing benchmarking report on European football, slide
Meanwhile the aggregate losses dropped by 81% from
€1.7bn in 2011 to just over €300m in 2015.More...
Ever since UEFA started imposing disciplinary
measures to football clubs for not complying with Financial Fair Play’s break-even requirement in 2014, it remained a mystery how UEFA’s
disciplinary bodies were enforcing the Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play (“FFP”)
regulations, what measures it was imposing, and what the justifications were for
the imposition of these measures. For over a year, the general public could
only take note of the 23 settlement agreements between Europe’s footballing
body and the clubs. The evidential obstacle for a proper analysis was that the
actual settlements remained confidential, as was stressed in several of our
The information provided by the press releases lacked the necessary information
to answer the abovementioned questions.
On 24 April 2015, the UEFA Club Financial
Control Body lifted part of the veil by referring FC
Dynamo Moscow to the Adjudicatory Body. Finally, the Adjudicatory Body had the
opportunity to decide on a “FFP case. The anxiously-awaited Decision was reached by
the Adjudicatory Chamber on 19 June and published not long after. Now that the
Decision has been made public, a new stage of the debate regarding UEFA’s FFP
policy can start.More...
May 2015, the Brussels Court of First Instance delivered its highly anticipated
judgment on the challenge brought by football players’ agent Daniel Striani (and
others) against UEFA’s Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations
(FFP). In media reports,
the judgment was generally portrayed as a significant initial victory for the
opponents of FFP. The Brussels Court not only made a reference for a
preliminary ruling to the European Court of Justice (CJEU) but also imposed an
interim order blocking UEFA from implementing the second phase of the FFP that
involves reducing the permitted deficit for clubs.
careful reading of the judgment, however, challenges the widespread expectation
that the CJEU will now pronounce itself on the compatibility of the FFP with EU
UEFA announced on 8
May that it had entered into Financial Fair Play settlement agreements with 10 European
football clubs. Together with the four other agreements made in February 2015, this brings the total to 14 FFP
settlements for 2015 and 23 since UEFA adopted modifications in its Procedural
rules and allowed settlements agreements to be made between the Clubs and the Chief
Investigator of the UEFA Club Financial Control Body (CFCB).
In the two years during
which UEFA’s FFP regulations have been truly up and running we have witnessed the
centrality taken by the settlement procedure in their enforcement. It is
extremely rare for a club to be referred to the FFP adjudication chamber. In
fact, only the case regarding Dynamo Moscow has been referred to the adjudication chamber. Thus, having
a close look at the settlement practice of UEFA is crucial to gaining a good
understanding of the functioning of FFP. Hence, this blog offers a detailed
analysis of this year’s settlement agreements and compares them with last year’s settlements. More...
The main lesson of this year’s transfer window
is that UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules have a true bite (no pun
intended). Surely, the transfer fees have reached usual highs with Suarez’s
move to FC Barcelona and Rodriguez’s transfer from AS Monaco to Real Madrid and
overall spending are roughly equal to 2013 (or go beyond as in the UK). But clubs sanctioned under the FFP rules
(prominently PSG and Manchester City) have seemingly complied with the
settlements reached with UEFA capping their transfer spending and wages. More...
Yesterday, the press revealed
that the European Commission decided to reject the complaint filed by
Jean-Louis Dupont, the former lawyer of Bosman, on behalf of a player agent
Striani, against the UEFA Financial Fair Play (FFP) Regulations. The rejection
as such is not a surprise. The Commission had repeatedly expressed support of
the principles underlying the UEFA FFP. While these statements
were drafted vaguely and with enough heavy caveats to protect the Commission
from prejudicing a proper legal assessment, the withdrawal of its support would
have been politically embarrassing.
Contrary to what is now widely assumed, this decision
does not entail that UEFA FFP regulations are compatible with EU Competition
Law. UEFA is clearly the big victor, but the legal reality is more complicated
as it looks. More...
The UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play
Regulations have been implemented by UEFA since the season 2011/12 with the aim
of encouraging responsible spending by clubs for the long-term benefit of
football. However, the enforcement of the break-even requirement as defined in
Articles 62 and 63 of the Regulations (arguably the most important rules of
FFP) has only started this year. Furthermore, UEFA introduced recently
amendments to the Procedural rules governing the Club Financial Control Body
(CFCB) allowing settlement agreements to be made between the clubs and the
On Friday 16 May, UEFA finally published the nine
separate settlement agreements between the respective clubs and the CFCB regarding
the non-compliance with the Financial Fair Play (FFP) break-even requirements. More...
Yesterday, UEFA published the very
much-expected settlements implementing its Financial Fair Play (FFP)
regulations. Today, we address tomorrow’s challenges for FFP, we offer five,
more or less realistic, scenarios sketching the (legal) future of the FFP
Last week, UEFA, presented its annual Club Licensing Benchmark Report,
which analyses socio-economic trends in European club football. The report is
relevant in regard to the FFP rules, as it has been hailed by UEFA as a
vindication of the early (positive) impact of FFP. This blog post is a report
on the report. We go back in time, analysing the last 5 UEFA Benchmarking
Reports, to provide a dynamic account of the reports findings. Indeed, the 2012
Benchmarking Report, can be better grasped in this context and longer-lasting
trends be identified.More...