Shareholders from the Premier League’s twenty member clubs met this week and ratified new regulations on club spending, with the overt aim of controlling spiralling wage bills and ensuring that clubs don’t live beyond their means.
Under the new rules, clubs will have to limit their losses to £105 million over three years. Also, Clubs whose total wage bill is more than £52m will only be allowed to increase their wages by £4m per season for the next three years. Everton’s wage bill was reported as £62 million for the 2011/2012 season, making it overwhelmingly likely that these restrictions will apply to the Blues.
These measures will do little to implement the much vaunted ‘Financial fair play’ the FA is hoping for, however, and will if anything only further the gap between the Premier League’s elite.
The likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool all have established revenue streams, be they from consistent success in the formative years of the Premiership, long established international fan bases, or the mere virtue of being in London. The nouveau riche of the league, Manchester City and Chelsea, have spent heavily in the pre-FFP era and can now rely on massive sponsorship income and the usual hordes of glory hunters.
Meanwhile, clubs with no recent success or long established large fan bases will struggle to see any future to dream of, other than the occasional domestic cup. These rules will discourage large investment in teams, which while healthier for the club itself, will only serve to cement a growing divide between the haves and the have nots.
The back door is not entirely shut for clubs with new mega-rich investors, as shown by the Qatari Tourism Authority’s 200 million Euro per year investment in PSG, used as means to circumvent FFP rules. This same procedure could happen in the Premier League, with certain sources of income such as the nebulously titled ‘commercial revenue’ not only being free from scrutiny, but actively being exempt from the rules on wage caps.
PSG’s Qatari investors have brought in players such as Beckham and Ibrahimovic, but secured their spending power with an €800m QTA sponsorship deal
Personally, I see these rules as just another way for the Premier League’s established ‘big teams’ to pull up the ladder behind them, preventing any other club from joining their party, by merit or otherwise.