Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has called into question the effectiveness of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, terming them as a contradictory measure that protects the bigger clubs and insulates them.
“I think Financial Fair Play is a contradiction because, when football decided to go for Financial Fair Play it was exactly to put teams in equal conditions to compete,” Mourinho told Yahoo.
“But what happened really with the Financial Fair Play is a big protection to the historical, old, big clubs, which have a financial structure, a commercial structure, everything in place based on historical success for years and years and years.
“And the ‘new’ clubs – I call them ‘new’ clubs, those with new investment – they cannot put themselves quickly at the same level. Clubs with new owners cannot immediately attack the control and the domination of these big clubs.
“Chelsea is not an old, historical, huge club – but it’s also not a club with a new owner. It’s a club with the same owner for more than 10 years. A club with a very important history, with great stability too. And at this moment I think we are just below them. I can say we are a very good club with the ambition to be a great club.”
The FFP measures were introduced in the 2011-12 season as a way to restrict the obscene amounts being spent by clubs to lure players from other clubs. Under the new rules, clubs must invest money that they have earned as revenue, thereby handcuffing them from spending beyond their earning capacity.
Manchester City and Paris St. Germain were the first clubs to be penalised under the new FFP rules. The English champions were penalised with a fine of £49 million, with the caveat being that if the sanctions imposed on them were followed in the next two years, the fine would be reduced to a much lesser figure.
Chelsea, meanwhile, have smartly worked their way around the FFP rules, by selling key players for inflated prices and by buying and loaning out the best talent Europe has to offer, to top-tier leagues around Europe. Not only do the youngsters get significant playing time, the experience abroad improves them considerably, thus allowing Chelsea to either recall them back as ready-made first team members or simply sell them at a premium.
It is a tactic that has reaped rewards for Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea, and one that is sure to be imitated by the nouveau-riche clubs of Europe. Chelsea spent close to £100m in the summer transfer window on the likes of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas, but the sales of David Luiz, Romelu Lukaku and Demba Ba allowed them to post an overall profit.
Meanwhile, the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid spent more than £250 million collectively, despite not offsetting the expenses with player sales. In that sense, Mourinho’s words are spot-on. The legacy that United and Madrid have built over decades of success and commerical experience means they can get away with spending obscene amounts in a single transfer window, as their multiple revenue streams would allow them to post profits despite not selling any players.