Belfast Telegraph

Wenger seeks level playing field

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger accepts he may have lost his battle for Financial Fair Play across Europe, but maintains the fight for a level playing field will always remain a worthwhile cause.

UEFA president Michel Platini confirmed on Monday that the FFP rules would be eased - and it is understood that the changes will allow more money to be invested into clubs by wealthy owners.

Wenger believes UEFA's restrictions have not really worked.

While he insisted the proposed changes will not affect the Gunners, who rely on the income generated from their 60,000-capacity Emirates Stadium rather than an individual investor, the French coach will always champion the need for clubs to balance the books and not risk financial meltdown in search of a quick fix.

"I have no problem to lose the battle. I just did fight for what looks to me to be logical: that any business, to have a continuity, should live with the resources that it creates. It doesn't look like anything absolutely unbelievable," said Wenger.

"If you open any shop tomorrow, you do not expect your neighbour to come in say 'I help you and give you some money, even if it doesn't work'.

"You want as well to protect your business. If somebody comes in and goes tomorrow to Totteridge (where I live) and says 'I want to create a world-class team', puts the money in, and after he moves away, then Totteridge goes down again.

"If you produce cars and he produces cars, and somebody comes in and says 'I can sell the cars at half price for five years just to make you die', then you die.

"We have to protect the clubs to live with their own resources, and as well for fair competition.

"It is a Formula One race, where you have Super Formula One, Formula Three, Four, Five and Six, so the days where Nottingham Forest could win the European Cup have gone."

Wenger believes the new £5billion Premier League domestic TV rights deal has provoked clubs in the rest of Europe to demand changes, and a "fear" of what could happen if they were not able to invest because of strict FFP.

The Arsenal boss said: "I got the noises internally, as you get in your own job. I could see it coming: resistance in France, many countries, in Italy for example, where people want to sell their clubs.

"If Milan is for sale, Roma is for sale, people who want to invest money want to make sure they can do what they want with their own money.

"And UEFA might be under threat as well, all these people once they go together and say 'look, we are a force, let us do what we want or we move away'. That is certainly the fear."

Wenger suggested there had been some improvements from the introduction of FFP criteria.

"If you look well at the wages, despite the improvement of the money available in England, you can see that the increase in wages was only six per cent in the last two or three years, so the positive effect started to come in," he said.

"We have to see what happens now, what will be respected in the Financial Fair Play and what will go out of the window, I don't know."

UEFA's executive committee is expected to ratify changes to the FFP rules at a meeting in Prague on June 29/30.

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