11 October 2018

Chelsea's Buck Issues FFP Warning  (Sky Sports)

Bruce BuckChelsea chairman Bruce Buck has warned that Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules may be detrimental to English football.

The Blues were able to become a power in Europe after the 2003 takeover by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich led to heavy investment on players, before FFP rules were introduced by UEFA in 2011 to curb such lavish spending.

It allowed Chelsea to end their 50-year title drought by winning the Premier League in 2005 while they won the Champions League for the first time in 2012.

"The dream in England is that if you are a supporter of a [fifth-tier] team is that someday you will win the Premier League," Buck said.

"One of the minuses [of FFP] is that dream is now over. That is not possible with Financial Fair Play.

"What Chelsea did in 2003, what Man City did five years later [after being bought by a member of Abu Dhabi's royal family], that is virtually impossible to do under Financial Fair Play."

UEFA has been exploring ways to improve the competitive balance, to close the divide between clubs across Europe to ensure competitions are not won by the same pool of leading sides.

But Buck warned European football's governing body that curbing the strength of the leading clubs would be damaging for the sport.

"In terms of competitive balance, which is always viewed in a negative way, I personally believe for the development of football, marquee clubs and marquee players are important," Buck said.

"It is important in developing fan base. It is important encouraging young people to engage in this sport and it also important in terms of the large clubs having the ability to put a lot of money into good causes which they do.

"So I am not, as a general proposition, in favour of dumbing down the large clubs in order to make all clubs the great unwashed. They have done that in the U.S. over the last 20 years and it has been to the detriment particularly of baseball... I just don't think it works for the long term."

To slow down a widening gap between richer clubs and the rest, UEFA was inspired by Major League Baseball when recently floating the introduction of a luxury tax. One model could see clubs paying a percentage of transfer spending beyond €100m (£88m).

"Clubs have to seek their natural position in the football order," Buck added. "But I don't think we should assume that because every club is not equal it's bad.

"There are 10 or 12 big clubs in Europe right now, and I think five, 10 years from now in round terms those 10 or 12 clubs will be the 12 big clubs.

"The mix is in terms of who is on top with respect to revenue. Who is on top with respect to performance and trophies, I think that's up for grabs."

Manchester United (13) Chelsea (five), Arsenal (three) and Manchester City (three) have won most of the titles since the Premier League was inaugurated in 1992 - with Leicester and Blackburn becoming champions in 2016 and 1995 respectively.

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