Just how significant today will prove
Posted by John Beech on November 11, 2009
I don’t suppose it will get much press coverage in tomorrow’s papers, but today something happened which will have a major, major impact on the English game – UEFA announced the formation of its Club Financial Control Panel (1). The Panel is tasked with ensuring that the UEFA club licensing system is applied correctly across all 53 UEFA member associations, that clubs have fulfilled the criteria defined in the UEFA Club Licensing Regulations, and, most significantly, driving through the adoption of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play concept (2).
Let me quote the passage on the Financial Fair Play concept which will send shivers down the spines of many of the Chairman I have blogged about of late:
“The major objective of the Financial Fair Play concept is to improve the financial fairness in European competitions, as well as the long-term stability of European club football. In order to achieve this goal, a set of measures will be put in place. These include an obligation for clubs whose turnover is over a certain threshold, over a period of time, to balance their books or break even. Under the concept, clubs cannot repeatedly spend more than their generated revenues. Guidance will be given on salaries and transfer spending, indicators provided on the sustainability of levels of debt, and clubs will be obliged to honour their commitments at all times.“
Can this really be the blueprint for dragging Chairman down screaming off Debt Mountain? Will it really reign in the insanely escalating levels of pay for players?
As UEFA President Michel Platini puts it: “The idea is not to hurt clubs. The idea is to help them. The basic premise is that clubs should not spend more than they earn. Club owners have asked for the introduction of rules, and this will be an adventure for European football and UEFA.” He argues that the measures are essential for the long-term health of the European game. They certainly are essential for even the mid-term health of the English game.
Key to the success or otherwise of the Panel’s work will be the quality of the people appointed to serve. They are Jean-Luc Dehaene, Belgium (Chairman); Jacobo Beltrán, Spain; Egon Franck, Germany; Umberto Lago, Italy; Johan Lokhorst, Netherlands; Brian Lomax, England; Petros Mavroidis, Greece; Brian Quinn, Scotland; and Yves Wehrli, France.
The two British members of the panel are a particularly interesting choice.
Perhaps not a name ubiquitously well-known on English terraces, Brain Lomax is nonetheless a major figure in the recent development of English football. He was a founder member of the first Supporters Trust, at Northampton, back in 1992, and then became first the Managing Director and subsequently the Chairman of Supporters Direct. This year he was awarded an OBE for services to football in the Queen’s Birthday honours list.
Brian Quinn CBE is much better known North of the border, as Chairman of Celtic. He joined their board in 1996 and was appointed as Chairman in 2000, holding the post until 2007. He holds Masters degrees from both Glasgow and Manchester Universities, and a Doctorate in Economics from Cornell University. Prior to his work with Celtic he had worked for the International Monetary Fund and the Bank of England, rising to be Deputy Governor. (There is more on him and his strategy at Celtic here.)
If the other seven panel members of the same calibre as these two, we can expect a Panel that will be effective and efficient in driving through of Financial Fair Play, and that will have a major impact on the English game, a very positive one. No doubt there will be tears before bedtime from some Chairmen, but that will be no bad thing.