UEFA eases club finance rules due to pandemic

NYON, SWITZERLAND (AP) — UEFA has eased its rules for monitoring spending by Europe’s top football clubs due to financial instability caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The European football industry is losing hundreds of millions of euros in income from playing games without fans and disruption to broadcast contracts.

UEFA announced changes yesterday effectively combining two accounting years for clubs into one that will be assessed next year in the Financial Fair Play programme.

“The adverse impact of the pandemic is neutralised by averaging the combined deficit of 2020 and 2021 and by further allowing specific COVID-19 adjustments,” Europe’s football body said in a statement after an executive committee meeting.

In other decisions prompted by the pandemic delaying the current season, UEFA advised member federations to close the player transfer window on October 5. The deadline is typically around August 31.

The new suggested date is one day before UEFA’s deadline for registering squads to play in the Champions League and Europa League.

The group stages begin from October 20-22, one month later than usual.

UEFA’s FFP programme requires clubs who qualify for European competitions to approach breaking even on their spending on transfers and wages against commercial income. Club owners are allowed unlimited spending on stadium projects and youth training, but not to bail out debts.

In the most severe cases, rule-breaking clubs can be suspended from a future competition. The FFP rules are being tested in Manchester City’s appeal against a two-year ban. A Court of Arbitration for Sport verdict is due next month.

UEFA said yesterday it is committed to “retaining the spirit and intent of financial fair play for football’s long-term viability”.

Clubs also were given one month extra, to the end of July, to show they have no outstanding debts for wages, transfers and social taxes.