Today was the draw for the UEFA Champions League. As a side note, I would like to say I am very pleased with Arsenal’s draw.
However, a more intriguing piece of news from the day is that UEFA is threatening to kick teams which have debts, out of the Champions League competition. President Michel Platini has said new financial rules will be in place by 2012. From his comments, it seems that these rules will require that clubs will be required to spend only as much as they make. After a summer of record transfer fee’s paid out by Real Madrid, it seems UEFA is fighting back against these rising costs by taking actions which will threaten one of the main sources of revenue for the more powerful clubs in Europe. From a variety of commentaries, it seems Platini doesn’t like the shopping sprees some times have been going on, and there is hint Platini wishes to see more “fair play” on and off the pitch in European Football. Sounds to me, like Platini is a fan of competitive balance.
If the rule were to come into affect today, several teams would be in trouble of being removed from Champions League, including Manchester United (debt of about $1 billion), Liverpool (debt of about $400 million), and possibly even Real Madrid (supposedly up to $800 million after their summer shopping). Of course Platini said the penalty for being in debt will range from being “fined” to “kicked out” of Champions League. It will be interesting to see if, when the rule comes into affect, if UEFA will really have the bravado to try and throw out some of the biggest names in professional sports from their competition.
A final note, which struck me as ironic, is some of Platini’s rationale for the new rules. He is quoted in this article as saying that Chelsea Owner Roman Abramovich approached him saying that things had gone too far, and does not want to “fork out anymore” cash for players. This from a man who paid £30 million for Shevchenko (a record transfer fee for British clubs at the time) a few years ago, has spent around 700 million Euro’s of his own money on the club (Chelsea spent £400 million in transfer fee’s since his arrival), a large chunk of which went to player transfer fee’s, and is even claimed to be the force which has caused the increases of spending in the European transfer market. All of this past history aside, Chelsea has been working towards becoming more financially stable.
Maybe it is a sign of how bad things have gone, when the Oil Baron’s in a league start complaining about how much they have to spend.