Can the USA solve the financial fair play crisis in European football?

UEFA has set FFP rules to regulate excess spending in European football. Picture Source: Emojimedia

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What is financial fair play (FFP)?

FFP is essentially a collection of regulation that prevent highly funded clubs from excess spending. What does that mean? Well, owners of football clubs across Europe have diverse spending power due to the differences in net worth. Prior to FFP, teams would seriously benefit from cash injections obtained through rich owners, for example Manchester City, PSG, Monaco, and even QPR at a point in time.

The excess spending was highly scrutinised by everybody involved in football, as it was taking away the competitiveness and fairness in football, hence the start of financial fair play. The way it works is that teams cannot spend more than they earn, and those that breach these rules can be heavily fined or suspended from European competitions.

What does this have to do with the USA?

FFP hasn’t really solved anything

Although the principle of FFP sounds great, not much has changed since it has been implemented. Every season, it is the same old teams being the big spenders in the transfer market, as succesful teams earn more money and can therefore spend more… As the rich get richer, the poor get poorer as one may say. How can the lower achieving teams catch up in order to make the buiness side of football more fair? The need for a stringent solution is becoming increasingly in demand, similar to the salary cap and player for player trades in US sports.

What is a salary cap and how does this make things fair?

In US sports, the whole idea of spending tons of money to win doesn’t get you very far, unless you spend wisely. Every team in the NBA/NFL/MLB etc all have the exact same limit on how much they can spend on player salaries. We’ll get to spending on transfers in just a minute. For now, let focus on the salary cap. With a limit on salary spending, each team must be wise on who they give big contracts to, as the bigger the contracts, the less quality depth a roster will have. Furthermore, this also partially prevents the formation of extreme so called ‘superteams’. By this, I dont mean the typical superteams we see with Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving at the Brooklyn Nets, im talking about a starting 5 of elite all stars. It’s just not possible, as everybody wants to get paid right?

If a salary cap was implemented into European football, the balance across leagues and clubs would start to even itself out. More superstars would be scattered across the top leagues in Europe, which could boost the local economy to what were before known as smaller teams. To put this into perspective, PSG have just signed Lionel Messi, Gini Wijnaldum, Hakimi, Sergio Ramos etc, who I guarentee all demand very high wages. Not to forget that they already have the likes of Di Maria, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar on huge contracts. The salary cap would limit PSG to signing maybe only 3 players on a high salary.

Player transfers

European football is heavily monetised, albeit so are other sports. However, in contrast to the US system, players are bought for real money. The transfer fees are not cheap either, as Jack Grealish was most recently signed for £100m from Aston Villa to Man City. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how this can be a disadvantage for clubs whose owners don’t have endless funds.

In US sports however, the majority of player transfers occur through player to player trades, and also draft picks, but these won’t be discussed as they are not in football. So let’s say Liverpool wanted to sign Mbappe from PSG, the trade would have to be a good enough offer for PSG, but must also fit within the salary cap. So hypothetically speaking, if Mane and Salah are on £200k per week wages, and Mbappe is on £400k, this trade could work as neither teams salary cap would be breached… but then would Liverpool give up two players for one? This is what makes it interesting. An alternative would be to sign players in free agency.

European football would see a dramatic change if these rules were to be implemented and would shake up the standings. Some people like the drama of big money transfers, the challenge of developing a team with limited funds and scouting of hidden gems. For the fairer route in football, a salary cap would be a good start and would be warmely welcomed.

Would you like to see a salary cap or player to player transfers implemented in European football? Let me know in the comment section below, or contact me on my socials!

Published by Brentton Barrett

a BSc (Hons) degree in Biochemistry, MSc in Pharmaclogy and currenly I am entering the final year of my PhD in Cardiovascular Pharmacology. With science aside, I have always enjoyed writing, so why not write about my alternate passion; sport! BleachSport is my blog which allows me to put science to one side, and express my ideas with those around the world who share the same sporting interests. Born and raised in London, UK with a particular love for football/soccer and the NBA. I am always up for discussions or debates on various sporting topics so if you want to propose a topic or ask something directly, do not hesitate.

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