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La Liga president Javier Tebas has accused clubs such as Manchester City and Paris St Germain of “laughing” at football’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.
Referring to the French club’s £200m signing of Barca star Neymar, Tebas said: “We’ve caught (PSG) peeing in the swimming pool and Neymar is peeing off the diving board.”
The Spanish league boss was speaking at the Soccerex Global Convention on Wednesday, two days after it emerged he had written to UEFA to ask for an investigation into what he described as PSG’s “history of non-compliance” with FFP.
The Costa Rican-born administrator expanded on this at Soccerex, saying clubs backed by national gas and oil revenues were inflating costs for all clubs and destroying the industry.
Tebas said La Liga has analysed the accounts of all the top teams in Europe over the last five years and believes PSG, City and even Chelsea have used their owners’ wealth to artificially boost revenues in order to meet FFP rules, which say clubs can only spend on players what they generate through broadcast rights, commercial deals and ticket sales.
He later added that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich had “settled down” in recent years and said “enough is enough”, but contrasted his behaviour with the bottomless-pit-style spending of the Gulf-owned clubs.
The 55-year-old, who has run La Liga since 2013, explained he has no problem with Abu Dhabi, Qatar or any other state deciding it wants to buy a football club, as long as they play fair.
“The problem is when the income they report to cover their costs is not real,” he told reporters in Manchester.
“They’ve agreed sponsorships which are not based on market rates. PSG earns more from sponsorships than Manchester United does and that’s impossible. That’s financial doping and it’s destroying the industry.”
PSG are owned by Qatar Sports Investments, a Doha-based sovereign wealth fund run by Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the chairman of PSG and BeIN Sports, a broadcaster which has pumped money into French football. Last season, the Paris club had seven Qatari sponsors.
City are owned by a group controlled by a member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family, Sheikh Mansour, who also is the United Arab Emirates’ deputy prime minister.
Like PSG, City have had several UAE-based sponsors and Tebas joked about the amounts these banks and tourism authorities were paying the clubs compared to their size and status.
Both City and PSG were among the first clubs to be caught out by the FFP rules in 2014, when UEFA withheld some of their Champions League prize money and restricted the size of their squads for European games in subsequent seasons.
City are widely believed to have complied with UEFA’s spending rules since 2014, thanks largely to the huge increase in broadcast revenues for all Premier League clubs.
It should also be pointed out that while they spent £220million in the summer transfer window, they also brought in more than £90million in sales and a net spend of £130million is not remarkable for a leading Premier League outfit.
Tebas advocates a system La Liga has introduced, which effectively operates as a salary cap for each team based on their income.
The ball, Tebas said, is now in UEFA’s court but if the governing body does not act he will consider taking the case “to Brussels”.
When asked if La Liga’s position was slightly hypocritical, given the cosy property deals and soft loans some Spanish clubs have received from local governments, not to mention Barca having Qatar Airways on their shirt for several years, Tebas said all wrongdoing should be investigated and punished, regardless of nationality.
“If we have been crooks – and we haven’t – the solution is not to say everyone can be a crook,” he said, before pointing out that La Liga has relegated clubs for receiving illegal ‘state aid’ and Barca’s shirt sponsorship was at the market rate.
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