By Paul Nicholson
March 3 – LaLiga’s CEO Javier Tebas took another swipe at Europe’s state funded clubs who he says have broken and continue to break all the financial rules, saying it has “taken too long” for the Premier League to bring financial breaches charges against Manchester City.
He also questioned why English football was not capable regulating itself in the same way LaLiga has done in Spain, and whether it was time for football to rethink its relationship with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Speaking at the Financial Times Business of Football Summit he focussed on the financial imbalance between the Premier League and the rest of Europe which he said came from an “excess of capital and an excess of subordinate financing from owners to clubs”.
Fundamentally he says that this has unlevelled the playing field in Europe. “The financial rule are not the same as the football rules,” said Tebas. “This is not sour grapes.”
Raising the issue of the new independent regulator to oversee professional football in England, he drew on the Spanish experience.
“Last December Spanish parliament introduced a new sports act. In the preamble it says that professional clubs in LaLiga have known how to self-regulate since 2013 with financial systems that are really well operated,” he said.
“The UK (he means England) have not self-regulated but have had plenty of time to do so. There must be certain regulation when you talk about financial regulation. You either self regulate or the government says you are not going to do it. Let’s be honest. If the Premier League thinks self regulation is not the way then they (the government) have to do it…”
“Our government says we (LaLiga) provide solutions for our clubs and this provides for our stable future,” continued Tebas.
“I have concern for Manchester United fans if states like Qatar come in. Everything I have said about PSG and the questions I have asked will be repeated… I am not concerned who the owner is but what the owner does. Fake inflated sponsorships, the general overhead (manipulation), this is dangerous. I said so about PSG because the wage bill is impossible. How do they do it?”
Referring to the more than 100 alleged financial breaches Manchester City are currently being investigated for by the Premier League, he said he raised the issue in 2017.
“That was 2017 and now it is 2023 and nothing has moved on, but suddenly there is an inquiry. It has taken too long. We know there was an alleged breach of 100 articles, so any decisions will have to be adopted accordingly by the Premier League,” said Tebas.
He also came down hard against multi-club ownership which he said was “dangerous to sporting integrity” as well as to financial integrity, particularly around the potential between clubs under the same ownership to have “out-of-market” transfers to balance the books. He said that multi-club ownership must be watched closely so there is “no risk… Lets not cheat.”
He also recognised that in his own league Barcelona had pushed the financial fair plays to the limit having built over 1 billion of debt.
“Barcelona is so important for LaLiga in Spain but if I looked away and didn’t pay attention to what is happening with their finances, it would be a gross error, our whole system would collapse,” he said.
“It is impossible for them to do transfer business in the summer because of the numbers. This needs to be resolved and we need to act.”
Turning to the proposals for the European Super League, he commented: “The Super League is a message that should tell us we need to be careful. This should not be something just for wealthy people – the best with only the best. It is like if a country is run by banks, the president of the country has to be the president of a bank. No!”
For his parting shot, Tebas also raised questions about the role of the Court of Arbitrations for Sport (CAS) and criticisms that are increasingly being heard within football.
“PSG and Manchester City were sanctioned by UEFA. It was CAS who overturned the ban. They are to blame, not UEFA. Perhaps we should have a review of CAS.”
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