A complaint has been made to the European Commission by Daniel Striani, a football agent registered in Belgium in relation to the new UEFA Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules. Striani believes that the FFP Rules will serve to hinder his trading capacity as a football agent.
The new FFP Rules have the ultimate objective of forcing football clubs in Europe to break even on a financial level. UEFA has already indicated its willingness to enforce the rules on a strict, no nonsense basis. Interestingly Striani is being represented by Belgian lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont who is famous for being part of the legal team that forced FIFA and UEFA to end the transfer system and the nationality quota within the EU under the 1995 Bosman ruling. This case facilitated the free movement of players at the end of their contracts.
Striani’s lawyers have set out five separate consequences stemming from the new FFP rules that he believes are anti-competitive and in restraint of trade. Firstly, he argues that the ramifications of the FFP rules will lead to a reduction in the number of transfers and the number of players contracted to clubs in general. He states that the aim of FFP to reduce players’ wages and inflation on transfer fees is anti-competitive and consequently breaches European Union Law. Secondly he argues that as a direct consequence of this decrease in transfers and players’ wages, his own earning capacity as an agent will be reduced.
Thirdly, at a club rather than an individual level, he argues that the new rules will prevent the current power structure being broken into. Striani believes that the FFP will serve to ensure that the already rich clubs will remain rich and clubs with new wealthy investors, such as Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain, will struggle to force their way into that structure due to the requirement that they must break even. The fourth argument is linked to the third in that Striani and his legal team are seeking to argue that general investment in football clubs is being discouraged – again with the ultimate aim of preventing football clubs from operating at a loss.
The final argument centres on more general EU Law provisions involving the free movement of workers, capital and services, and the legal case will be argued on the basis of restraint of trade involving both football clubs and agents. UEFA has already received a high level of support from within the footballing community in relation to the new rules and is confident that the European Commission will reject this complaint from Striani and his legal team. One thing we can be sure of is that this will not be the only legal challenge stemming from the new FFP Rules.
Here at Farleys we have a dedicated team of sports lawyers. We are able to provide expert advice on the FFP Rules and how these new regulations will affect you at either an individual or club level. If you have been affected by any of the above issues then do not hesitate to contact us today to speak to one of our specialist sports solicitors who will be able to advise you.