Uefa defeats legal challenge to financial fair play rules

• EC ruling declares there is no case to answer
• Uefa had consulted heavily with EC on rules

Uefa has defeated a legal challenge to its financial fair play rules, which have been upheld by the European Commission. The rules, which require clubs to move towards financially breaking even and have recently been enforced for the first time, were challenged last year by Daniel Striani, a players’ agent registered in Belgium.

Striani, represented by a Belgian lawyer, Jean-Louis Dupont, argued that the regulations would restrict investment in clubs, lock in the power of big clubs by preventing others indulging in huge spending and dampen down players’ wage and transfer fee inflation.

In a letter sent to Striani, copied to Uefa, the EC rejected the complaint, saying it does not intend to investigate it any further. It argued that the financial fair play rules apply to clubs, not to players’ agents, and therefore Striani has no legitimate interest in complaining about them.

The EC said Striani’s complaint that FFP would decrease transfer activity had not been further substantiated and it had received no other complaints at all in almost four years since the rules were introduced. No club has made a complaint to the EC, which noted that it was widely consulted about the rules before they were passed. The clubs’ organisations and leagues represented at Uefa unanimously supported the rules being introduced.

The EC response, which allows Striani four weeks to submit observations before becoming final, comes as Uefa has concluded settlements with eight clubs, including the Premier League champions Manchester City, found to have breached the financial fair play rules this year. City agreed reluctantly on 16 May to a maximum €60m sanction over three years, restriction to 21 players in next season’s Champions League squad and to maintain wages at their present level.

Uefa consulted extensively with the EC about the workability within European law of its rules, which it says are aimed at helping clubs not to overspend and to be financially healthier. . A spokesman said: “Uefa is very pleased that this decision by the European Commission upholds all aspects of the financial fair play regulations.”

Dupont also brought the case in a Belgian court so it is yet possible it will proceed. He could not be reached for comment.


David Conn

The GuardianTramp

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