By Andrew Warshaw at Soccerex, Manchester
September 6 – Controversial Spanish league boss Javier Tebas says he will continue to speak out until the likes of Paris St Germain and Manchester City are properly held to account by UEFA for what he terms “financial doping.”
Tebas has been at the forefront of demands for UEFA to tighten up financial fair play and repeated that message in a hard-hitting address to the Soccerex sports business convention today.
Although UEFA sanctioned both PSG and City three years ago and have pledged to investigate the former’s recent monstrous transfer dealings, Tebas called into question the way both Middle East-backed big spenders do business, saying they had an unfair competitive advantage “due to monies that are not created by the club itself.”
Tebas has gone on record as saying that he was considering taking legal action against both PSG and Manchester City but has now backtracked slightly on that, saying he would ideally like UEFA to be the prosecuting body rather than go to the relevant courts in Brussels dealing with competition law.
But he made it clear that in his opinion, the spirit of FFP was being broken by the mindboggling deals being done by PSG and City, who spent around €700 million between them in the summer.
Having compared the various income streams of Europe’s major clubs, Tebas asked: “PSG has a lot more from sponsorship than Manchester United but how can this be possible? This is financial doping. Why? Because there is a value coming from sponsorship outside of the market.”
“We think the rules have been infringed. It’s not that I don’t like PSG. But what happens when this money comes into European football? There is an inflation of salaries and transfer fees. This is damaging football.”
“European football needs to know there is an incredible risk when money comes in from states. PSG paid Barcelona €222 million for Neymar but it’s never ending. All (PSG president) Nasser (Al-Khelaïfi) has to do is open the gas tap. That is the problem. This is not football’s market price. It’s gas market price.”
“It’s not just last summer. I’m talking about over several seasons. If we don’t control this, the smaller leagues will not grow and the whole industry will be destructured.”
Tebas made a of point of not excusing Spanish clubs accused of also taking state money. “If Spanish clubs have received financial help from the state, directly or indirectly, they need to be punished.”
But, he said, PSG and City had taken excessive spending to obscene new limits. “They are laughing at the system. Neymar is peeing from the diving board into the swimming pool. We can’t accept this.”
Tebas said sanctions so far imposed by UEFA for breaching FFP rules – heavy fines and a demand to reduce squad sizes – were insufficient.
“We need to change the system because the damage has already been done when Uefa hands out punishments,” said Tebas. “By then clubs who have abided by the rules have already been knocked out (of the Champions League). That’s not right. I get criticised for talking too much but we are too silent as a sector. Too many people talk too much in hotel receptions rather than go public in an open manner.”
Later, at a media briefing, Tebas said he was mystified as to why UEFA ultimately reduced the sanctions meted out to PSG and City after apparently taking the view that both clubs had made a sufficient effort to balance the books.
“It was some strange agreement that was not made public,” charged Tebas. “We sent a letter of complaint at the time but what have UEFA done since in terms of paying sufficient attention to PSG and City? If they’d taken a proper look, they would have sanctioned them again.”
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