LK Shields Solicitors

Are UEFA’s financial fair play rules at odds with EU competition law?

By Marco Hickey

UEFA’s financial fair play (FFP) rules may seem to be the solution to protecting the beautiful game, by making the sport more competitive, but it may not be the case from an economic point of view. The implementation of FFP may unintentionally lead to anti-competitive ‘oligopoleagues’. It could be argued that FFP violates both the spirit and the letter of EU competition rules. The EU’s competition commissioner, Joaquín Almunia, himself an avid Athletic Bilbao fan, has publicly favoured the FFP rules, but this might change with the new European Commission being appointed in November.

The break-even requirement imposed by UEFA’s new rules guarantee the long-term financial stability of football clubs by forcing them to not spend more money than they have earned in the previous season. The rules aim to enforce financially sustainable strategies in the game and they also aim to prevent financial competition from taking precedence over the where the real competition is meant to happen: on the pitch…

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