Financial fair play takes a legal knock

LONDON - Europe's super-heated transfer market could be further energised after a Belgian court cast more doubt on the future of Uefa's controversial financial fair play (FFP) regulations.

The Court of First Instance referred a case on Tuesday, questioning the legality of Uefa's rules, to Europe's highest legal authority.

It also announced an interim measure preventing the game's European governing body from further limiting the losses clubs are allowed to accrue.

Several claimants, including Daniel Striani, a football agent, and supporters of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, presented the case.

It is being led by Jean-Louis Dupont, the lawyer who made his name with his work on the Bosman free transfer ruling.

They contend that FFP breaches EU regulations on free competition, free movement of capital and freedom to invest by limiting the amount of money owners are permitted to put into their clubs.

The court yesterday passed the case on to the European Court of Justice. If FFP is found to be in breach of EU rules, Uefa may be forced to withdraw it entirely.

It also announced an interim suspension on the second phase of FFP, which is designed to reduce the losses that clubs are permitted to have sustained over the past three years from €45 million (S$67 million) to €30 million.

Michel Platini, president of Uefa, confirmed last month that plans are in place to relax FFP to enable owners to invest more of their own money.

The new measures will be announced next week and can be expected to be in line with the recommendations of the Court of First Instance.

Clubs across Europe have already taken note of Uefa rowing back on its stance, with Inter Milan already spending heavily.

City, who are hopeful of completing a £150 million (S$317 million) refit of the squad this summer, are preparing to follow suit.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2015, with the headline 'Financial fair play takes a legal knock'. Print Edition | Subscribe