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LFC boss worried about UEFA cash rules

Financial fair play ‘a real challenge’ says Ian Ayre

Published on April 1st 2011.

LFC boss worried about UEFA cash rules

IAN Ayre, managing director of Liverpool FC, has voiced concerns over UEFA’s new financial regulations and how they will be implemented.

Speaking at the Soccerex European Forum in Manchester, Ayre said that the ‘proof will be in the pudding’ with regards to how clubs will interpret UEFA’s financial fair play rules when they come into force next season.

He said: “Everyone is keen to see how and i the rules will be applied. You can’t half-rule the process.”

Ayre was debating whether financial fair play will improve football on a panel that included Andrea Traverso, UEFA’s head of club licensing and Clarke Carlisle, PFA chairman and Burnley FC player.

He voiced concerns that sanctions will be “killed” if clubs ease themselves into financial fair play.

One of the major talking points since UEFA first began thinking about financial regulation three years ago is the idea that clubs with wealthy owners can get around the restrictions by selling their stadium naming rights at extortionate value to related third parties.

UEFA’s new regulations would not allow a very wealthy club owner to continue to invest huge amounts of money to spend on players and wages, as seen at Chelsea and Manchester City for example.

However, UEFA would not currently prohibit a third party, owned by the said club owner, from buying the rights to the stadium name for a hefty price. Thus increasing the revenue of the club, exploiting a loophole for further player investment.

Andrea Traverso attempted to calm concerns explaining that naming rights deals would be investigated by a specialist panel, and only allowed if they were at a “fair market value”.

He said: “Clubs will have to report and disclose naming rights deals and from this information we can determine a benchmark. Related parties must therefore deal at market value.”

However, Ayre questioned the clarity of “fair market value” in these kinds of deals.

He asked: “What is the benchmark?”

UEFA say that the regulations aim to improve financial capability of football clubs therefore ensuring long-term viability and sustainability. They hope to do this by encouraging responsible spending, and by regulating clubs to slow the currently spiralling wage inflation.

Clubs who do not comply with UEFA’s regulations could be barred from competing in European Competitions such as the highly lucrative UEFA Champions League.

Clarke Carlisle dismissed popular belief that UEFA would fear punishing Europe’s most powerful clubs.

He said: “UEFA have banned clubs from European competition before and they would do it again I’m sure.”

Ayre said that Liverpool FC were in full support of the UEFA initiative but admitted the financial fair play remains a “real challenge” and a concern for the club.

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