UEFA has opted to temporarily soften its financial fair play (FFP) rules to help clubs impacted by the economic fall-out of the coronavirus crisis, European football’s governing body announced on Thursday.
FFP rules mean that, over a three-year period, clubs competing in European competition are not permitted to lose more than 30 million euros ($33.7m).
However, given the damage done to the footballing economy by the interruption to the sport caused by the pandemic, UEFA has agreed to a loosening of the rules which, it says, “aim at addressing the actual problem which is revenue shortfall due to COVID-19 and not financial mismanagement”.
It means that clubs will be given longer than usual to show they have met payments owed on transfers and salaries, while “the assessment of financial year 2020 is postponed for one season, and will be assessed together with the financial year 2021”.
These measures do not impact on decisions already taken before the crisis, so for example French club Marseille are still set to be punished after they were referred in March to the adjudicatory chamber of UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body for not complying with an agreement to balance their books.
Manchester City have been banned from Europe for two years and handed a 30 million-euro fine for serious breaches of FFP regulations between 2012 and 2016.
The English club have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, which will announce its judgement on the case in July.
The FFP rules were brought in to combat growing debt in European football.
Assessments began in 2011 when European clubs reported overall losses of 1.7 billion euros. In contrast, according to UEFA’s most recent annual “benchmarking” report, the 700 top-tier clubs across the continent made a combined profit of 140 million euros in 2018.
– ‘Harmonised’ transfer window –
Meanwhile, UEFA has said it wants a harmonised European transfer window this summer closing on October 5, ahead of next season’s Champions League and Europa League group stages.
Following its latest executive committee meeting held via videoconference, UEFA said clubs would have until October 6 to register players for the group stage of next season’s European club competitions.
On Wednesday it was announced that the 2020-21 Champions League would start on October 20, with the Europa League group stage starting two days later.
The summer transfer window in Europe usually closes at the start of September, although individual countries do not all follow the same dates.
Football is still adapting after the current season was interrupted in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
FIFA has already permitted countries to open their transfer windows up to four weeks before the delayed season has been completed, although any new signings would not be eligible until next season.
Several countries are only just resuming competitions, with the seasons in the English Premier League and Spain’s La Liga not set to finish until late July. Italy’s Serie A will not now finish until early August.
On Wednesday UEFA announced that this season’s Champions League would be completed with a “final eight” straight knock-out format in Lisbon from August 12 to 23.
Similar formats have been adopted for the latter stages of the Europa League, in Germany, and the women’s Champions League, in Spain.