Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Buck: FFP rules go too far

Bruce Buck says Chelsea would have preferred legislation which really deals with the issue of stabilisation regulations
Bruce Buck says Chelsea would have preferred legislation which really deals with the issue of stabilisation regulations

Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck believes the Barclays Premier League's Financial Fair Play regulations are like 'cutting off an arm when you have a broken finger'.

UEFA has already implemented its own financial controls aimed at stopping clubs spending more than they earn, with sanctions including a possible ban from European competition coming into effect from 2014 for those posting losses of more than £36million over three seasons.

The English Premier League, meanwhile, is set to bring in regulations which prohibit a loss in excess of £105million aggregated across to 2015/2016, with restrictions on wage increases above a level of £52million and on up to £60million in those three seasons.

Chelsea insist they are on course to meet UEFA's measures, having in 2011/2012 posted a small profit of £1.4million for the first time since Roman Abramovich's takeover with the owner's £166.6million loan converted into equity and as such leaving the club debt free.

Buck, though, believes the issues over how the Premier League's new financial restrictions are to be implemented leave a lot of unanswered questions, such as how massive sponsorship deals or naming rights are taken into account.

"Football had a problem and football has a problem which is that there are some clubs who spend money they do not have," Buck said at the Leaders in Football event, hosted by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

"We felt that football should do something from a rule-making perspective, but our approach was really financial stabilisation, in other words rules which would require clubs to pay their taxes and would not permit them to spend money they did not have.

"The problem we have identified with Financial Fair Play is that it goes a long way to preserving the status quo, and one of the great things about football in this country is that if you are in last place in League Two, you can still hope that some day you will win the Premier League. That is now difficult if not impossible due to Financial Fair Play.

"Financial Fair Play will now have to wrestle with issues like: are certain sponsorship agreements really bona fide? Insularly revenues, is it appropriate to put those into the equation?

"We would have preferred something which really dealt with the issue of stabilisation regulations.

"We feel that what we have is we had a broken finger, so we cut off the arm.

"Having said that, Financial Fair Play at the UEFA level is in effect, we all want to play in UEFA competitions, so we will all do what we have to comply."

Buck continued: "It took us three or four years for us to realise we had to change our (business) model and be more frugal, more conservative and have a structure for the future. that is what we are doing now.

"Hopefully for the long-term, we will be successful in breaking even or better

"We will comply with UEFA's form of Financial Fair Play, but we have a lot of work (to do) into that."

Chelsea are expected to make a sustained challenge for the Premier League title this season following the return of Jose Mourinho as manager.

Buck revealed he was enjoying having the popular Portuguese coach back in the dugout.

"This has been a very relaxed season for me to be honest, because we hired Jose back which is what our fans wanted," he said.

"I don't have to explain to the fans who might come up to me on the Fulham Road asking, 'Why is this player not playing?' or 'Why is this player playing?'

"We have the manager they want, and it is for him to do."

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