Nyon: More than half of Europe’s top football clubs are still in the red, with a record 1.2 billion euro losses about a year before UEFA’s new financial rules kick in, the organisation says.
“Two years ago almost 70 percent of clubs were in the red,” said Gianni Infantino, secretary general of European football’s governing body.
“At present there are still 56 percent - that means more than half of all professional football clubs are in the red,” he told journalists as UEFA unveiled its club licensing report for 2009.
The 655 top division clubs scrutinised by footballing officials reaped 11.7 billion euros in revenue in 2009, an increase of 4.8 percent.
“However, the figures demonstrate that we were right to ask for more financial discipline because the reported costs were 12.9 billion euros, an increase of 9.3 percent,” said Infantino.
That brought their collective losses up to nearly 1.18 billion euros, an 85 percent increase or “almost double the previous record”, UEFA said in its report.
UEFA’s complex new financial fair play rules, broadly demanding that clubs break even, are due to apply from the 2012 financial year, with sanctions likely to be enforced two to three years later.
If they were applied now, 11 clubs would “potentially” have been excluded from this season’s European League and Champions League, according to Infantino.
Big spending top clubs in England and Spain are regarded as amongst the most debt laden, while Germany’s top division clubs collectively balance their books.
UEFA President Michel Platini said there would be no “finger pointing” or blacklisting of clubs for now.
But he underlined that the forthcoming rules, which already appear to be reining in transfer spending by some big clubs, would be “vital” for football’s future.
“There won’t be any witchhunts today but on the other hand we won’t hesitate to clamp down,” he added.
The rules, which apply to clubs from 53 top divisions that qualify for European competitions, are designed to ensure a more level playing field by ensuring that a club does not “repeatedly” spend more than the revenues it generates, a UEFA official explained.
European Club Association chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said its 197 members backed the new rules.
“I think it is now time to slow down a little, to step on the brakes and introduce a little more reason into football,” said Rummenigge, who is also executive chairman of Bayern Munich.
Infantino told reporters that not all of the current loss-making clubs would necessarily fall foul of the rules.