Writer: A perplexed football fan
Date:Monday March 8 2010
First of all I have to be honest with you and say that I have severe misgivings and suspicions about the real intentions of your organisation in attempting to control entry into European competition on the basis of financial factors. This cynicism started a few years ago when your organisation changed the rules on qualification into the Champions League, such that teams that were knocked out of this competition at an early stage were then parachuted into an advanced stage of another European competition.
This blatant manipulation was clearly at the behest of the G14 Group of European Clubs who could not stomach the possibility of being beaten by a relative 'minnow` in the qualification rounds of the Champions League and therefore lose European generated football finance for that season.
The fact that the major intention of UEFA in changing the qualification rules, appears to have been to appease the G14 organisation, which itself had been formed with the stated intention of guaranteeing the dominance of its 18 member football clubs, was surely a cynical and unethical action.
This brings me to the latest machinations of your organisation in attempting to restrict entry to competitions controlled by UEFA on the basis of financial performance. My first question is a simple one - what problem are you trying to resolve? Is it to try and stop major football clubs going into financial meltdown or is it yet again another attempt to appease the G14 organisation? I say this because I cannot understand why in your deliberations you have not focused on the issue of club debt but instead have focused on the use of financial capital, as though this is the major problem.
As any businessman would tell you, if a business (and that is what a football club is) has an injection of funds, which does not attract punitive interest rates in order to grow, then this is a healthy thing and something that should be welcomed. If that same business does not make a profit from its other revenue streams during this period of investment, this is equally no bad thing, as long as the level of debt is either eradicated each season by the owners (as was done by Sheikh Mansour at Manchester City last year) or kept under control in relation to its revenues. Thus genuine investment into European football should surely be welcomed and not seen as an evil thing which may result in exclusion from European competitions.
On the other hand spiralling debt should be looked at as a potential problem, particularly when then debt has to be serviced by heavy interest rates that in turn may have the effect of further increasing that debt. Why has your organisation not pointed to debt levels as an issue and a criterion for non entry to your competitions? Has this anything to do with the fact that several of the G14 members are in this situation and may have to be excluded, if this criterion was considered? Could it also be that these very teams are extremely nervous of the increased competition to their dominance by teams that have wealthy investors behind them such as Chelsea, Manchester City and a number of Eastern European teams?
Certainly, if such teams threaten the current monopoly enjoyed by the G14 teams, by which year on year they take the lion`s share of revenue accrued by European wide competitions, then these G14 teams would need to lobby your organisation in order to keep their distinct advantage. A strange thing this, as I thought that European political organisations were against monopolies or business arrangements not based on fair competition.
So, as I understand it, your plans would allow teams to enter your competitions if they achieved a profit of a few million but had a debt say of nearly a billion, such as Manchester United, a founder member of G14. However it could bar teams who have made a small loss but had no debt at all on their balance sheets such as Manchester City, who coincidentally are not a member of G14. If this is the case then surely there must be another agenda at play here, as things simply do not add up from either a financial or a logical standpoint.
So I ask again, what problem are UEFA trying to solve by considering financial factors as a condition of entry into their competitions? I really do think it is time UEFA came clean on this issue, as the more one looks at it, the more one is convinced it is based on power, politics and the preservation of monopoly advantage. Naturally I would be delighted if you could convince me otherwise.
A perplexed football fan.
Date:Monday March 8 2010
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