• Premier League

United chief challenges UEFA

ESPN staff
February 13, 2014
United vice-chairman Ed Woodward refused to comment on rivals Manchester City coming under UEFA scrutiny © Getty Images

Manchester United's executive vice-chairman wants to know if UEFA is going to bear its teeth over financial fair play.

Ed Woodward is fully aware of the new rules which say that clubs in the Champions League and Europa League who spend a lot more than they earn will be punished.

The penalties range from a simple reprimand to a fine and a ban from European competition. However, with clubs who have made big losses in recent years being scrutinised, Woodward is waiting to see if European game's governing body follow through with the penalty threats which have followed the introduction of Financial Fair Play (FFP).

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"This year is the first point where we see how FFP is going to bite, works and has an impact on potential inflation in football," Woodward told investors.

"A number of clubs are being looked at more closely by UEFA. I would agree that how UEFA deals with those clubs who have breached the rules or are close to breaching the rules will be important to see how FFP impacts on the industry.

"We will probably start to get a sense of how UEFA are coming out five or six months, although the process may take somewhat longer than that."

Manchester City are one club under scrutiny, according to the Press Association, after their latest accounts showed a £51.6million annual loss for last season.

But the figures also highlighted potential grey areas where the club has sold intellectual property rights to 'related parties' for £22.5million, and sold two subsidiaries of the club to a third subsidiary in deals totalling £22.3million.

Qatar-owned Paris St Germain's huge sponsorship deal with the Qatar Tourism Authority is worth £165m annually and is also set to be scrutinised by UEFA to ensure it is of fair market value.

UEFA's FFP rules cap total losses over the three seasons (including 2013/14) at £37m, but clubs are permitted to write off spending on facilities, youth development, and player contracts signed before 2010.

City chief executive Ferran Soriano said on Monday the club was aiming to break even this year. He said: "We are working towards breaking even this season."

Soriano added that City's losses were within the FFP limits, adding: "There is a lot of relief that can be taken for investment in youth football and old investments." UEFA declined to comment on Woodward's remarks.

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