UEFA to look out for loopholes in financial rules

The European soccer association pledged Wednesday to keep a

close eye on clubs losing money to make sure they don’t find

loopholes in new financial rules.

In a bid to end an era of so-called ”financial doping” by

teams with wealthy owners, clubs that want to play in the Champions

League or Europa League are required to stop spending more than

they earn starting next season.

Clubs persistently losing money can be barred from the 2014-15

season under UEFA president Michel Platini’s flagship ”financial

fair play” regulations.

UEFA’s head of club licensing Andrea Traverso told The

Associated Press on Wednesday that the organization is looking for

”clubs putting in place specific structures that allow them to

easily go around some of the principles that we didn’t think

about.”

The UEFA regulations limit the ability of owners to subsidize

losses incurred by paying high transfer fees and salaries, making

them only spend what they earn from soccer-related income if they

want to play in European competitions.

But owners will be allowed to cover losses of up to a maximum of

$63 million over an initial three-year spell, starting in 2012. In

the three years from 2015, just $42 million in losses can be

covered.

”We will monitor how the clubs react and if necessary, if we

notice there are measures that need to be taken to address

particular problems then we will address those to the executive

committee for consideration and then eventually (make) some

modifications,” Traverso said on the sideline of the SoccerEx

conference. ”It’s very difficult to anticipate all possible

scenarios. There might be scenarios that we didn’t think of, so if

this would be the case we could amend the rules to catch up with

these situations that we hadn’t been identified before.”

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre warned at SoccerEx that the

regulations would be ”killed” if they are not applied equally

across Europe. National associations issue clubs with a license to

play in Europe, but UEFA has the final approval.

”These rules should be rules and should be hard and fast,”

Ayre said. ”What will kill the initiative or certainly stifle it

is people easing themselves into it rather than the rules applying

and everyone operating within them. The rules should be clearly

defined, you cannot have a half-rule process.”

The spending limits encouraged the Boston Red Sox ownership

group headed by John Henry to buy Liverpool in October. Henry and

Tom Werner bought the team for $476 million through their New

England Sports Ventures.

”We see it as a positive step but the reservations around it

are the proof of the pudding being in the application, how it will

be applied – will people be given grace periods, will the sanctions

be applied?” Ayre said. ”If it is not managed well and delivered

well, we would all question the outcome of it.”

UEFA will allow progressively smaller losses from 2015 before

the break-even rule is mandatory.

Traverso said UEFA will not pander to top clubs like Manchester

City that might not meet the requirements. The Abu Dhabi-owned club

lost $191 million in the 12 months up to May 31, 2010, having spent

more on wages alone than it earned.

”They might have a strategy to maximize their revenues in the

next couple of years … to balance their books,” Traverso

said.

”Rather than saying we will amend the rules because too many

clubs will fail and therefore we will lower down the rules, this is

absolutely not the case, if anything they will be made stricter,”

Traverso said. ”No rule is perfect and there is a constant

evolution of the rules. I would be surprised if four years from now

the rules will be the same as they are now. Probably some fine

tuning will be necessary.”