According to The Times (£), Uefa are keeping a close eye on Arsenal’s spending as the club attempts to manoeuvre through the transfer window without breaching the governing body’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.
On the back foot since falling out of the Champions League at the tail-end of Arsene Wenger’s tenure, the Gunners’ financial situation has been significantly impacted by the Covid pandemic with post-tax losses spiralling to record levels in the last two years.
In February, the club announced a loss of £107.3 million for the year ended 31 May, 2021, more than double the loss of the year before, £47.8m. Cash reserves that were the envy of world football have dried up like an oxbow lake in a heatwave.
Despite matchday and commercial revenues taking a hit, the club have attempted to reboot the first team with significant investment in the transfer market across the last two summer windows.
While figures are estimates, net spend on players in the last three years tops £200 million and, if reports are to be believed, we’re open to spending even more.
Uefa’s current rules allow only €30 million in losses over a three-year period although there are plenty of caveats baked in, including ‘healthy’ spending and Covid-related flexibility.
If that limit stayed as is, we’d probably be in for a slap from Aleksander Ceferin but the rules are due to change next year and the limit, thanks to the phased introduction of new ‘squad cost control’ regulations, will increase to €90 million.
Arsenal fans will be delighted with the team’s good start to the season, so are probably unconcerned about the financial implications of their player recruitment, but it is maybe worth looking at whether there will be any issues with Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations #AFC
— Swiss Ramble (@SwissRamble) August 22, 2022
For the time being, football finance expert @SwissRamble believes we’re on the right side of the regulations, although he admits estimating Arsenal’s profit and losses for the next couple of years is “a bit of a mug’s game.”
Signing off on a typically epic Twitter thread, he concludes that Arsenal “have had to show some fancy footwork off the pitch to remain competitive during their extended Champions League absence, especially after being hit particularly hard by COVID, but they would appear to have just about managed to do so while still complying with FFP rules.”
Obviously, after years of playing the good guys under Arsene, it’s somewhat galling to countenance that we, of all clubs, are sailing close to the wind on the FFP front especially when blatant rulebreakers (Chelsea, City etc.) haven’t faced any meaningful sanctions.
Prediction. No big team will ever face a significant sanction from UEFA for an FFP breach. Why?
1. They never have been punished.
2. Sanctions under new policy are completely watered down.
— tariq panja (@tariqpanja) August 23, 2022
We should point out that plenty of other clubs are also being monitored and a select few will be punished for previous breaches which include transfer bans. That said, just to underline how laughable the marshalling of FFP is, Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid are just letting the letters pile up on the doormat because they are still in a legal battle with Uefa over their involvement in the breakaway Super League plans.
Let’s hope Arsenal’s spending pays dividends on the pitch.