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

Losing the UEFA Europa League on the Legal Turf: Parma FC’s bitter defeat by Giandonato Marino

This year the race for UEFA Europa League places in Serie A was thrilling. In the final minutes of the last game of the season, Alessio Cerci, Torino FC striker, had the opportunity to score a penalty that would have qualified his team to the 2014-2015 edition of the UEFA Europa League. However, he missed and Parma FC qualified instead. More...

Olympic Agenda 2020: Window Dressing or New Beginning?

Shortly after his election as IOC President, Thomas Bach announced his intention to initiate an introspective reflection and reform cycle dubbed (probably a reference to former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s publicly praised Agenda 2010) the Olympic Agenda 2020. The showdown of a year of intense brainstorming is to take place in the beginning of December 2014 during an IOC extraordinary session, in which fundamental reforms are expected. More...

The French collective agreement for professional Rugby tackled by Kelsen’s Pyramid - Guest Post by Patrick Millot

Pursuant to Kelsen’s famous pyramid, the authority of norms may be ranked according to their sources: Constitution is above the Law, which is in turn superior to the Regulations, which themselves stand higher to the Collective Agreement etc…Under French labour law, this ranking can however be challenged by a “principle of favourable treatment” which allows a norm from a lower rank to validly derogate from a superior norm, if (and only if) this derogation benefits to the workers.

On 2 April 2014, the Cour de Cassation (the French Highest Civil Court) considered that these principles apply in all fields of labour law, regardless of the specificity of sport[1].  In this case, Mr. Orene Ai’i, a professional rugby player, had signed on 13 July  2007 an employment contract with the Rugby Club Toulonnais (RCT) for two sport seasons with effect on 1 July 2007. More...

UEFA may have won a battle, but it has not won the legal war over FFP

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 Nine FFP Settlement Agreements: UEFA did not go the full nine yards

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 CFCB.  

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...

FFP the Day After : Five (more or less realistic) Scenarios

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 regulations. More...

Dahmane v KRC Genk: Bosman 2.0 or Storm in a Teacup?

Mohamed Dahmane is a professional football player of French-Algerian origin, who has played for a variety of European clubs, including French club US Mauberge, Belgian club RAEC Mons and Turkish club Bucaspor. However, he will mostly be remembered as the player whose legal dispute with his former club (Belgian club KRC Genk) revived the debate on football players’ labour rights.  More...

Get Up, Stand Up at the Olympics. A review of the IOC's policy towards political statements by Athletes. By Frédérique Faut

The Olympic Games are a universal moment of celebration of sporting excellence. But, attention is also quickly drawn to their dark side, such as environmental issues, human rights breaches and poor living conditions of people living near the Olympic sites. In comparison, however, little commentary space is devoted to the views of athletes, the people making the Olympics. This article tries to remediate this, by focussing on Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter which prevents athletes from freely expressing their (political) thoughts.  More...

Asser International Sports Law Blog | Five Years UEFA Club Licensing Benchmarking Report – A Report on the Reports. By Frédérique Faut, Giandonato Marino and Oskar van Maren

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

Five Years UEFA Club Licensing Benchmarking Report – A Report on the Reports. By Frédérique Faut, Giandonato Marino and Oskar van Maren

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.

UEFA Club Licensing and FFP Regulations Enforcement

For the footballing season 2013/14 seven clubs from five different countries had been excluded from European competition due to FFP (including Malaga, Rayo Vallecano and CSKA Sofia). Since 2004, 42 sanctions were handed out to 40 clubs (FC Irtysh from Kazakhstan and Bulgarian club CSKA Sofia have been sanctioned twice) spread over 21 different countries. Clubs from Kazakhstan have received most sanctions: seven in total.    

The economics of transfers

Over the last five years, €10.9 billion were spent on transfers by the European clubs. €8.4 billion were spend by clubs in the English, Italian, Spanish, German and Russian leagues.

The summer of 2013 saw a record of €3 billion being spend by European clubs on the transfers of players, 12% more than the previous record which was set in the summer of 2011.

In the last five years 166 players were transferred for €15 million or more, 63 were transferred to English clubs. Number two, Italy, bought 26, less than half.


The revenue for top division clubs was €14.1 billion in 2012, which is an increase of €800 million compared to 2011.

Total revenue has gone up for all six top divisions over the last five years. England had a total revenue of €2.44 billion in 2008 and a total revenue of €2.78 billion in 2012, an increase of 12.23%.

The biggest change is witnessed in Russia where revenue increased from €350 million in 2008 to €890 million in 2012. An increase of about 150%!

Title: Top Division Clubs' Revenues

Compared to 2011, the domestic broadcasting revenue increased by 8% and the commercial & sponsor revenues increased by a combined 7% and is expected to continue. Nonetheless, gate receipts fell by 2%.


Player wages amounted to €9.2 billion in in 2012, an increase of €600 million compared to 2011, and €2.1 billion compared to 2008.

The last five years have seen a significant increase of wages namely 59% over the whole of Europe. In the top divisions a wage increase of 49% can be witnessed. The wage to revenue ratio is stabilised at 65%, the same percentage as in previous years, but differs from country to country

Out of the 50 clubs with the highest wage bills 15 were English, 8 German, 8 Italian, 6 Spanish, 6 Russian and 5 French.

Interestingly, in 56% of the time, the club with the highest wage bill in that particular division won the league. (In the 20 wealthiest leagues this percentage is 60%). The main exception is AC Milan, who has the highest wage bill in Italy, but has only won the league once in the last decade (2010/11). In 21% of the time, the club with the second highest wage bill in that particular division won the league.

Cost base and profits/losses

The total top division club losses was found to be €1.1 billion in 2012, which is equivalent to an 8% loss margin. Even though the clubs still made losses, the final number is €600 million less compared to the €1.7 billion in 2011. 57% of all clubs reported losses, however, 58% of the clubs produced better numbers (higher profits or lower losses) than in 2011.

Do note that the net profit/loss after tax is not the same as the break-even result assessed for FFP purposes. For example, youth costs may be excluded for the break-even assessment but not for the net profit/loss assessment.

Only six of the 20 highest income leagues reported profits in 2012, namely the German, Dutch, Belgian, Austrian, Norwegian and Kazakh leagues. In total 38 out of 53 European leagues reported losses.


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