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The CAS jurisprudence on match-fixing in football: What can we learn from the Turkish cases? - Part 2: The procedural aspects. By Thalia Diathesopoulou

With this blog post, we continue the blog series on Turkish match-fixing cases and our attempt to map the still unchartered waters of the CAS’s match-fixing jurisprudence.

The first blog post addressed two issues related to the substance of match-fixing disputes, namely the legal characterization of the match-fixing related measure of ineligibility under Article 2.08 of the UEL Regulations as administrative or disciplinary measure and the scope of application of Article 2.08. In addition, The Turkish cases have raised procedural and evidentiary issues that need to be dealt with in the framework of match-fixing disputes.

The CAS panels have drawn a clear line between substantial and procedural matters. In this light, the Eskişehirspor panel declared the nature of Article 2.08 UEL Regulations to be administrative and rejected the application of UEFA Disciplinary Regulations to the substance. Nonetheless, it upheld that disciplinary rules and standards still apply to the procedure. This conclusion, however, can be considered puzzling in that disciplinary rules apply to the procedural matters arising by a pure administrative measure. To this extent, and despite the bifurcation of different applicable rules into substantial and procedural matters, the credibility of the qualification of Article 2.08 as administrative seems to be undermined. And here a question arises: How can the application of rules of different nature to substantial and procedural matters in an identical match-fixing dispute be explained?

This paradoxical approach can be justified by the conflicting duty of the CAS in match-fixing disputes. The CAS aims to strike the right balance between due process concerns, on the one hand, and the urge to fight against match-fixing effectively, on the other hand. In this sense, procedural matters have to be examined in conjunction with substantial issues raised in match-fixing disputes. Having as a starting point, therefore, the fundamental distinction between administrative and disciplinary measures, this blogpost will proceed with an analysis of the standard of proof applicable in match-fixing disputes (1) and of the admissibility of evidence (2). 


Standard of proof in Match-Fixing disputes: To be ‘comfortable’ or not to be?

It has been argued that in international arbitration the standard of proof has an impact on the form and not on the substance of a dispute.[1] However, in cases of corruption and particularly in match-fixing disputes, the determination of the standard of proof is significant, since the application of a different standard may lead the CAS to adopt a different substantive conclusion on the merits.[2] Considering, also, the severity of the ineligibility sanction imposed to a club for being involved in an act or an attempt of match-fixing, it is important to assess the emerging trends of the CAS jurisprudence in setting this standard.

The CAS Code does not define the applicable standard of proof in CAS proceedings. As a result, sports-governing bodies may explicitly specify a pre-determined standard of proof in their regulations. Indeed, in the Bin Hammam, Köllerer and Adamu cases, the CAS recognized the autonomy of a sports federation in determining the applicable standard of proof[3] by acknowledging that ‘in the absence of any overarching regulation, each association can decide for itself which standard of proof to apply’. Specifically, in the context of UEFA match-fixing proceedings, UEFA has embedded the standard of ‘comfortable satisfaction’ as the applicable standard of proof in Articles 2.05 of the UEFA Champions League (UCL) Regulations and 2.08 of the UEFA Europa League (UEL) Regulations. However, even in cases where the standard of proof is enshrined in the applicable regulations, the CAS is not impeded to deviate from this standard. In any case, it is interesting to analyse the reasoning of the panels in coming to the conclusion that the comfortable satisfaction standard or another standard of proof is applicable.

The first time the CAS was called to adjudicate on the standard of proof to be used in match-fixing disputes was in the Pobeda case.[4] Since then, in a number of awards, including the most recent example of the Turkish cases, the CAS has attempted to establish certain general principles on the standard of proof to be applied in match-fixing cases. However, this has not been done in an entirely consistent way.

In the Fenerbahçe case, the Panel determined the comfortable satisfaction as the standard applicable in the event of a maximum one year period of ineligibility to participate in the UEFA CL or UEFA EL, namely in case of application of Articles 2.05 UCL or 2.08 UEL. Nevertheless, to determine the standard of proof when Articles 2.06 UCL or 2.09 UEL apply, in absence of a standard explicitly provided, the CAS referred to Swiss civil law cases and to the CAS jurisprudence. In fact, the panel observed a contradiction. While according to Swiss civil law cases the standard to be applied is the ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, the CAS jurisprudence, making an analogy to doping cases, has found that the applicable standard of proof in match-fixing cases should be ‘comfortable satisfaction’. The CAS jurisprudence has justified this departure from the commonly applicable standard of proof in civil cases to the reduced standard of comfortable satisfaction by referring to the ‘restricted investigative powers of sports governing bodies[5]and to the fact that in corruption cases the parties involved seek evasive means to escape from sanction.[6] The Fenerbahçe panel acknowledged the difficulties of proving an occurrence of match-fixing in the case at hand, since UEFA had access to circumstantial evidence only and concluded that the reduced standard of comfortable satisfaction had to be applied.

A similar approach was adopted in the Besiktas case. Although Article 2.08 UEL Regulations explicitly provided for the standard of comfortable satisfaction, the panel referred extensively to the match-fixing related CAS jurisprudence and particularly to the Metalist case[7] in order to justify the application of the comfortable satisfaction standard. Interestingly enough, although the Appellant claimed that in this case UEFA and the CAS had access to the broad investigatory powers of the Turkish authorities and therefore the beyond any reasonable doubt standard should have applied, the Besiktas panel declared that the pure civil character of the CAS proceedings excludes per se the application of a standard of proof applicable in criminal proceedings.

Finally, the Eskişehirspor panel confirmed the application of the comfortable satisfaction standard, which is in line with the existing CAS jurisprudence. By contrast to the Besiktas case, the Eskişehirspor panel relied on the wording itself of Article 2.08 and then went a step further by elaborating the meaning of the comfortable satisfaction standard. Specifically, the comfortable satisfaction standard was defined as a ‘kind of sliding scale’ based on the seriousness of the allegation. In practice this means that ‘the more serious the allegation and its consequences, the higher certainty the Panel would require to be comfortable satisfied’.[8] The comfortable satisfaction standard, therefore, requires that the offence be demonstrated to a higher level than a mere balance of probability but less than proof beyond a reasonable doubt bearing in mind the seriousness of the allegation which is being made. In this light, considering the serious repercussions of being found guilty of match-fixing and particularly the sizeable economic consequences due to missing out on the Europa League or Champions League competitions, the comfortable satisfaction standard provides sufficient safeguard to the football clubs.[9]

The comfortable satisfaction fits better disciplinary proceedings, where the burden of proof must be proportionate to the sanction imposed. At this point, however, a paradox emerges. Taking into consideration the CAS declaration in the Eskişehirspor case of the administrative character of the ineligibility measure under Article 2.08 UEL Regulations, it comes as a surprise that the CAS applies a standard of proof, which in principle is linked to disciplinary proceedings. This transposition can be explained by the fact that, according to the CAS, the UEFA DR still apply in procedural matters. However, the author of this commentary is of the opinion that the CAS falls prey to a contradiction. Having identified the enforcement of Article 2.08 as administrative, the CAS distinguished between substance and procedure in a controversial way, by applying to the later the comfortable satisfaction standard usually used in the framework of disciplinary proceedings. This blurs again the line between administrative and disciplinary measures, and raises the question whether the CAS can cherry pick procedural elements from disciplinary proceedings.

More importantly, the Eskişehirspor assessment seems to undermine the ratio itself of the distinction between administrative and disciplinary measures and the qualification of article 2.08 as administrative. As the Fenerbahçe panel remarked, the bifurcation of the proceedings regarding the administrative measure and the proceedings in respect of the disciplinary measure can be justified by the necessity of having to act quickly in respect of the administrative measure in order to protect the integrity of the competition, while the imposition of the final and appropriate disciplinary measure might require a more comprehensive evaluation of the case. In this sense, due to the urgency of rendering a club ineligible as a result of its involvement in match-fixing, a lower standard than the comfortable satisfaction could be tolerated, namely the standard of balance of probability.

It seems, therefore, that in the match-fixing framework the CAS is called to reconcile two contradictory but equally overriding aims: the due process concerns generally embraced by the CAS and the fundamentality of the fight against match-fixing in the eyes of UEFA. In the Eskişehirspor case, and in previous match-fixing cases, the CAS opted for a standard of proof in line with the intensity of the administrative measure adopted, a standard that safeguards the due process rights of a club to the detriment of systematic coherency. 


Admissibility and evaluation of evidence in match-fixing disputes

With regard to the evidentiary measures in match-fixing proceedings, it is well-established jurisprudence that sports federations and arbitral tribunals enjoy considerable discretion and are not necessarily barred from taking into account evidence, which may not be admissible in civil or criminal state courts.[10] 

In the Turkish match-fixing scandal, two issues have been specifically raised: the reliance of the CAS panel on findings of a state court in match-fixing (1) and the admissibility of the use of wiretaps (2).

In both the Fenerbahçe and Besiktas cases, at the time of the CAS proceedings, criminal proceedings were pending before the Turkish Supreme Court. The legal question arising out of these parallel proceedings was whether the CAS panels could rely on the findings of domestic courts. The Fenerbahçe panel took into account that there was no final and binding criminal conviction in domestic courts yet, and, thereby, chose to adopt a slightly independent approach. The panel tried to provide its own evaluation of the facts. However, it concluded that based on the lower standard of comfortable satisfaction the criminal case could be taken into account to corroborate the conclusion reached by UEFA, namely that one of the Fenerbahçe’s officials was suspected of being involved in match-fixing.[11] On the other hand, the Besiktas panel using the Oriekhov[12] case as a point of reference argued that due to the restricted investigative powers of UEFA and the CAS, the panel should be able to rely on domestic courts’ decisions. It noted, however, that the CAS should not blindly rely on a particular national decision, but rather assess and evaluate all the evidence available in the context of its own case. While the two panels justified the use of findings of a state court in a different way, their approach reflects a rather cautious approach of the CAS when extending a criminal conviction to a disciplinary conviction the readiness of the CAS to import evidentiary material from national courts even though it is to do so in a rather cautious manner, weary of the disciplinary nature of the case presented to its jurisdiction.

As far as the use of wiretaps is concerned, the Eskişehirspor case is adding to a series of CAS awards allowing wiretaps recordings as an admissible type of evidence. After having conducted the ‘balancing exercise’, which was introduced in the Fusimalohi[13] case and taking into account the limited investigative powers of UEFA, the CAS concluded that the inclusion of evidence unlawfully obtained is outweighed by the interests of UEFA in uncovering the truth in match-fixing cases. In this light, the use of wiretaps should be admissible as the only evidentiary medium susceptible to ascertain the factual truth. The CAS, therefore, confirmed once again its growing concern to support the fight against match-fixing with all the possible evidentiary means available in its legal toolkit. 


Conclusive Remarks

A series of CAS awards over the past years have addressed procedural and substantial matters related to match-fixing cases. Some of the issues discussed above, i.e. the applicable standard of proof and the evidentiary means accessible in match-fixing cases, seem to be solidly established. Two important conclusions can be drawn with regard to CAS jurisprudence procedural matters: firstly, it is unlikely that the CAS would deviate from a standard of proof enshrined expressively in the regulations of sports-governing bodies and secondly, with regard to the admissibility of evidence, future CAS panels are likely to take into account the difficult position of federations when investigating match-fixing offences.

There are nevertheless a number of issues still open for discussion. In the Eskişehirspor case the CAS attempted to clarify the legal nature and scope of Article 2.08, drawing a clear line between administrative and disciplinary measures. However, by applying UEFA DR in procedural matters, the CAS maintains alive the uncertainty over the real nature of the ineligibility imposed by Article 2.08: is it an administrative measure or a disciplinary sanction? It seems that the CAS is willing to confer an administrative flavour to the ineligibility measure, but at the same time it attempts to ease the draconian economic consequences of this measure by imposing a relatively strict burden of proof on the shoulder of UEFA.

After all, and despite the CAS’s willingness to effectively support the fight against match-fixing, it seems that - for the moment at least - the CAS is not willing to adopt a Machiavellianthe end justifies the mean’ approach, namely an approach where due process concerns would come entirely short.



[1] F Rodriguez, ‘ICCA 2014. Standard of Proof: A plea for Precision or an Unnecessary Remedy?’ (http://kluwerarbitrationblog.com/blog/2014/04/10/icca-2014-standard-of-proof-a-plea-for-precision-or-an-unnecessary-remedy/).

[2] E Barak and D Koolaard, ‘Match-fixing. The aftermath of Pobeda-what have the past four years brought us?’ 18 (http://www.tas-cas.org/d2wfiles/document/5890/5048/0/Bulletin202014-120final.pdf).

[3] A Rigozzi and B Quinn, ‘Evidentiary Issues before CAS’ (http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2438570), 24.

[4] CAS 2009/A/1920, FK Pobeda, Aleksandar Zabrcanec, Nicolce Zdraveski v UEFA.

[5] CAS 2010/A/2172, Oleg Oriekhov v UEFA.

[6] CAS 2009/A/1920 (n 4).

[7] CAS 2010/A/2267-2281, Football Club “Metalist” et al. v. FFU.

[8] CAS 2013/A/3256, Fenerbahçe Spor Kubülü v UEFA, para 123.

[9] CAS 2004/A/607, B. v. International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), para 34.

[10] CAS 2011/A/2425, Ahongalu  Fusimalohi v FIFA, para 79.

[11]CAS 2013/A/3256 (n 8), para 543-544.

[12] CAS 2010/A/2172 (n 5).

[13] CAS 2011/A/2425 (10), para 80.

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Asser International Sports Law Blog | Bailing out your local football club: The Willem II and MVV State Aid decisions as blueprint for future rescue aid (Part 2)

Asser International Sports Law Blog

Our International Sports Law Diary
The Asser International Sports Law Centre is part of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut

Bailing out your local football club: The Willem II and MVV State Aid decisions as blueprint for future rescue aid (Part 2)

This is part two of the blog on the Willem II and MVV State Aid decisions. Where part one served as an introduction on the two cases, part two will analyze the compatibility assessment made by the Commission in two decisions.


The compatibility of the aid to MVV and Willem II (re-)assessed

Even though it was the Netherlands’ task to invoke possible grounds of compatibility and to demonstrate that the conditions for such compatibility were met, the aid granted to both Willem II and MVV was never notified. The Netherland’s failure to fulfill its notification obligation, therefore, appears to be at odds with the Commission’s final decision to declare the aid compatible with EU law. Yet, a closer look at the Commission’s decision of 6 March 2013 to launch the formal investigation shows that the Commission was giving the Netherlands a ‘second chance’ to invoke grounds that would lead to a justification of the measures. In paragraph 74, the Commission itself reached the conclusions that the clubs in question faced financial difficulties, consequently indicating that the Rescue and Restructuring Guidelines might apply. In fact, the Commission even suggested possible compensatory measures, which are very much related to “the peculiar nature of professional football”[1]. These suggested compensatory measures included:

- limiting the club’s number of registered players for a season or several seasons;

- accepting a cap on the relation between salaries and turnover;

- banning the payment of transfer fees for a certain period;

- offering additional expenditure on “pro bono” activities to the benefit of the community and training of amateurs.[2]

Furthermore, it invited the Dutch authorities “to provide all useful information allowing the Commission to decide whether the aid measures can be considered compatible with the Guidelines”.[3]

The observations and information submitted by the Netherlands between March 2013 and July 2016 proved more than sufficient for the Commission to carry out its compatibility assessment. As was insinuated in the decision to launch a formal investigation, the Rescue and Restructuring Guidelines proved fundamental to this assessment.  


Willem II and MVV as firms in financial difficulties

This first condition of the Guidelines was easily complied with. As regards Willem II, in the accounting year 2008/2009, it made a loss of €3.9 million on a turnover of €11.4 million. Meanwhile, its own equity decreased from €4.1 million to €200.000. The losses increased to €4.4 million on a turnover of €9.9 million for the 2009/2010 season, while its own equity decreased further from €200.000 to minus €2.1 million.[4]

MVV clearly was financially not doing much better. As the Commission itself summarizes in the MVV decision, “in 2008/2009, MVV made a loss of €1.1 million and its own equity was minus €3.8 million. By March 2010 additional losses amounting to €1.3 million had occurred and the own equity had dropped to minus €5.17 million. In April 2010, MVV was no longer able to pay salaries and other current expenditure and was on the brink of bankruptcy.”[5]

Another consequence of being in financial difficulties relates to the licensing system put in place by the Dutch football federation KNVB. As is explained in paragraph 11 of the decision to open a formal investigation, one of the obligations for clubs under the current system is submitting three financial reports a year to the KNVB. On the basis of these reports clubs are scaled in three categories (I: insufficient, II: sufficient, III: good). Clubs in category I may be obliged to present a plan for improvement in order to reach categories II or III. If the club fails to comply with the plan, sanctions may be imposed by the KNVB, including an official warning, a reduction of competition points and – as ultimate sanction – withdrawal of the licence.[6] At the time the State aid was granted, both Willem II and MVV were scaled in the insufficient category I.  


Willem II and MVV as small enterprises or medium-sized enterprises

This particular assessment is important for the two conditions below, i.e. the introduction of restructuring plans and compensatory measures. Depending on the size of the firm (or enterprise), different conditions apply. Willem II employed 53 people in 2012 and had an annual turnover of €11.4 million in 2008/2009.[7] Pursuant to the Annex of the Commission Recommendation concerning the definition of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, Willem II just managed to be considered a medium-sized enterprise.[8]

MVV, on the other hand, is considered a small enterprise. In the season 2009/2010 it had 38 employees and in the season 2010/2011 it had 35 employees. Its turnover and balance sheet total remained well below €10 million in both years.[9] 


Restructuring plans

Though not initially communicated to the Commission, both rescue measures were subject to certain restructuring conditions. In principle, these consisted of reducing personnel costs, by introducing new managements, selling players, and signing players free of transfer payments. In the case of Willem II, in the two years following the rescue measure personnel costs were reduced by 30%.[10] The effects of MVV’s restructuring plan were even better, since it managed to book profits for the three seasons following the aid and was scaled in the highest category (III) by the KNVB in the beginning of the season 2011/2012.[11] 


Compensatory measures

For the compensatory measures it is important to take into account point 41 of the Rescue and Restructuring Guidelines. Under this provision, small enterprises, such as MVV, are not required to take compensatory measures. However, this exception did not apply to Willem II. The Commission noted more expenditure of Willem II for public benefit by the training of amateurs and a reduction of the number of registered players from 31 to 27. Similarly, no transfer payments were made during the restructuring period.[12] Potentially as a result of this, Willem II was relegated to the second league in 2011 and again in 2013. In the end, the Commission concluded that “the compensatory measures required by the Guidelines were taken, which had the effect of weakening Willem II's competitive position in professional football”.[13] 


Aid limited to a minimum

Since the aid measures rescued both football clubs from bankruptcy without creating equity surplus, the Commission believed the amount of aid granted limited to what was necessary. Furthermore, the Commission highlighted that the restructuring plans were to a large extent financed by external contributors just as the Rescue and Restructuring Guidelines requested. Private entities had agreed to lend €2.25 million to Willem II for the restructuring, which is well over the 40% of €2.4 million (the total amount of State aid granted) required for medium-sized enterprises under the Guidelines.[14] In the case of MVV, several private creditors decided to waive (part of) their debt, which amounted to €2.25 million. This amount is more than 25% of the €5.8 million granted by the Netherlands, the minimum requirement for a small enterprise like MVV.[15] 


One time, last time

The Commission believes this condition to be fulfilled, as the Netherlands specified that Willem II and MVV did not receive rescue or restructuring aid in the ten years before the aid measures, nor will it award any new rescue or restructuring aid to the clubs during a period of ten years.[16] 


Conclusion

At the time of writing, the non-confidential versions of the positive decisions regarding State aid granted in favour of the Dutch professional football clubs FC Den Bosch and NEC Nijmegen are not published. Nonetheless, this does not prevent us from drawing the following lessons from the Willem II and MVV decisions.

First of all, these decisions show that there is no need to draft sector specific guidelines for State aid to professional football clubs in difficulty. The Rescue and Restructuring Guidelines are all the Commission needs in order to carry out the compatibility assessment. This approach is radically different when compared to the Commission’s decisional practice for the State aid to sport infrastructure cases between 2011 and 2013.[17] Only after the Commission dealt with ten different cases, was its approach (to a large extent) codified in Article 55 of the 2014 General Block Exemption Regulation.[18]

In this regard it is important to highlight that the Commission seems to take into account “the peculiar nature of professional football”[19] when assessing the compatibility of State aid measures under the Rescue and Restructuring Guidelines. For example, it showed demonstrated its awareness of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations[20] as well as national (KNVB) licensing rules when assessing the compensatory measures taken by Willem II. Moreover, it clearly endorsed the decision taken by the club not to make transfer payments during the restructuring period, since this prevents the club from spending money it might not have, while simultaneously limiting the club’s competitiveness on the field.

A further lesson that can be drawn from these decisions is that, in my opinion, the threshold to ‘pass the compatibility test’ under the Rescue and Restructuring Guidelines is quite low. With regard to the condition that the club needs to be in financial difficulties in order to get the State aid, it is clear that granting State aid to professional football clubs in financial difficulties is one of the most (if not the most) common form of State aid in the sector. This was the case for the five Dutch clubs scrutinized by the Commission, as well as the three clubs from Valencia of which the non-confidential version of the decision still needs to be published. Other clubs like FC Twente and Sporting de Gijón have also received State aid over financial difficulties, even though the Commission did not investigate these measures (yet).[21] In other words, a majority of the cases are assessable under these Guidelines.

The condition that the beneficiary football club needs to stick to a restructuring plan in order to receive the State aid is key. As is elucidated in the two decisions, the restructuring plans consisted of selling players, reducing the costs of wages and not paying transfer fees for new players for a period of three years. In my view, these conditions are rather proportionate when considering that the clubs in question were on the verge of bankruptcy prior to the State aid measures. In fact, one could argue that FIFA’s transfer ban imposed on FC Barcelona for international transfers of minors, or excluding FC Dynamo from the next UEFA club competition for which the club would otherwise qualify in four seasons (i.e. the 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons) for breaching UEFA’s FFP Regulations,[22] are harsher than the restructuring conditions accepted by the Commission.

The same can be said about the need to take compensatory measures. The measures taken by Willem II (reducing the number of employees and players, and reducing the cost of wages to 48% of the turnover) could be considered a direct consequence of the abovementioned restructuring plans. The only additional compensatory measure taken by Willem II was increasing expenditure of the club for the training of amateurs, though the decision does not specify what this implied in practice.

Perhaps the only condition that could be problematic for some football clubs is the “one time, last time” criterion. Under this condition, the public authorities cannot rescue Willem II and MVV again until at least 2020. Although Willem II and MVV are currently in category III and II on the KNVB’s scale respectively, falling back to category I before 2020 could have dramatic consequences.

Be that as it may, now that the Commission’s approach for the assessment of State aid to professional football clubs in financial difficulties is out in the open, public authorities and football clubs alike should use this knowledge to their own advantage. They should remember that the Commission is willing to accept rescue aid and that the restructuring conditions are far from impossible to match. One can even wonder whether a club like FC Twente would have turned to Doyen when it was facing financial difficulties, if it had been aware of the conditions imposed by the European Commission for receiving compatible State aid under the Rescue and Restructuring Guidelines.



[1] Commission Decision on State Aid SA.40168 of 4 July 2016 implemented by the Netherlands in favour of the professional football club Willem II in Tilburg, para. 50.

[2] Commission Decision SA.33584 of 6 March 2013 – The Netherlands Alleged municipal aid to the Professional Dutch football clubs Vitesse, NEC, Willem II, MVV, PSV and FC Den Bosch in 2008-2011, para. 80.

[3] Ibid, para. 77.

[4] SA.40168, para. 45.

[5] Commission Decision on State Aid SA.41612 of 4 July 2016 implemented by the Netherlands in favour of the professional football club MVV in Maastricht, para. 13.

[6] SA.33584, para. 11.

[7] SA.40168, para. 9.

[8] A firm is not considered a small enterprise i fit has more than 50 employees and an annual turnover of more than €10 million. See footnote 27.

[9] SA.41612, para. 9.

[10] SA.40168, para. 48.

[11] SA.41612, para. 52.

[12] SA.40168, para. 51. Indeed, according to www.transfermarkt.de, Willem II only paid a mere €20.000 for the signing of Kevin Brands in July 2012.

[13] Ibid.

[14] SA.40168, para. 52.

[15] SA.41612, para. 54.

[16] SA.40168, para. 55 and SA.41612, para. 61.

[17] Commission Decision of 9 November 2011, SA.31722 – Hungary - Supporting the Hungarian sport sector via tax benefit scheme; Commission Decision of 2 May 2013, SA.33618 Uppsala arena; Commission Decision of 15 May 2013, SA.33728 Multiarena in Copenhagen; Commission Decision of 20 March 2013, SA.35135 Multifunktionsarena der Stadt Erfurt; Commission Decision of 20 March 2013, SA.35440 Multifunktionsarena der Stadt Jena; Commission Decision of 18 December 2013, SA.35501 Financement de la construction et de la renovation des stades pour l’EURO 2016; Commission Decision of 2 October 2013, SA.36105 Fuβballstadion Chemnitz; Commission Decision of 20 November 2013, SA.37109 Football stadiums in Flanders; Commission Decision of 9 April 2014, SA.37342 Regional Stadia Development in Northern Ireland; and Commission Decision of 13 December 2013, SA.37373 Contribution to the renovation of ice arena Thialf in Heerenveen.

[18] For a deeper analysis of whether sport-specific guidelines are necessary, see Oskar van Maren, “EU State Aid Law and Professional Football: A threat or a Blessing?”, European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 15 1/2016, pages 31-46. To find out how sector-specific rules for State aid are usually articulated, see Ben Van Rompuy and Oskar van Maren, “EU Control of State Aid to Professional Sport: Why Now?” In: “The Legacy of Bosman. Revisiting the relationship between EU law and sport”, T.M.C. Asser Press, 2016.

[19] SA.40168, para. 50.

[20] In paragraph 51 of SA.40168, the Commission referred to a UEFA rule, which holds that the cost of salaries should not exceed 70%.

[21] For more information of the precarious financial situation of these two clubs, see our previous blogs: “Unpacking Doyen’s TPO Deals: FC Twente's Game of Maltese Roulette”, and “TPO and Spanish football, friends with(out) benefits?”.

[22] For more information on the FC Dynamo case, see our blog “UEFA’s FFP out in the open: The Dynamo Moscow Case”.

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