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May 5, 2014

Lawyer hopeful over fight against FFP

Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are expected to be the highest-profile victims of UEFA's financial fair play rules, but are unlikely to be banned from European competition.

The Belgian lawyer who has taken UEFA to court over financial fair play (FFP) has told Le Parisien the new regulations will only reinforce the position of football's already established elite.

Belgian lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont is challenging the FFP regulations.
Belgian lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont is challenging the FFP regulations.

Jean-Louis Dupont, who was part of the legal team that brought about the Bosman ruling, was asked by an Italian agent to make a case against FFP and brought a complaint before the European Commission in May 2013 and then a month later before the County Court in Brussels.

A judgement is expected from the latter body in February 2015, and Dupont is hopeful of getting a favourable decision, particularly as he believes the rules will merely succeed in keeping the big clubs rich.

He said: "This system is going to fossilise the structure of competition. It blocks the development process, it stops life. The clubs who are fortunate enough to be in the top 12 in Europe are going to stay there and even reinforce their dominance.

"If Bayern Munich are where they are, it's because they are well run, of course, but also because they are the biggest club in a market of 80 million inhabitants. Without saying it, we've created a franchise system like in the NBA. The next big investor who wants to come into football, like [Roman] Abramovich at Chelsea a few years ago, won't be able to take a medium-sized club and build them into a European power."

The first punishments are expected to be handed down this week by UEFA to clubs European football's governing body adjudges to have broken the new rules, including Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

Dupont believes clubs affected by the disciplinary measures, which could range from a fine to a ban on using new signings in European competition to exclusion from UEFA competitions, may also resort to legal action as he considers the FFP rules to be in contravention of EU law.

He said: "It's very simple to say: 'You have to spend what you earn.' The public are going to find that great, but to explain why it's false, you need an economic, legal and political analysis. This system is inadequte and, consequently, illegal with regard to European law.

"It creates the following restrictions on competition: limitation of investments, freezing of the existing structure of competition, reduction in the number of transfers, their amounts and the number of players under contract at a club, deflationary pressure on players' salaries..."

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