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European Clubs Spilling Red Ink

  • AP, Friday, September 18, 2009 3:45 PM
On Thursday, UEFA reported that almost a quarter of Europe's top division soccer clubs suffered major financial losses last year. Clubs' rising costs have offset increases in income. For example, while income rose five percent last year, player costs increased 9 percent. "The huge spending on players produces constantly an inflationary effect with consequences on the whole club soccer movement," UEFA secretary general David Taylor said.

On top of that, "the current financial crisis has exacerbated the situation." English clubs posted the worst losses. Only Romania, Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Poland had more clubs losing money among Europe's 53 federations. Across Europe, barely half of teams break even or make a profit, UEFA reported.

In an attempt to stop such losses, UEFA has imposed new financial restrictions. By 2012, soccer-related businesses need to break even or be stripped of their licenses. Former Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene will lead UEFA's campaign to control excessive spending. Taylor said the new system will teach clubs to compete for European titles with their revenues instead of their debt, and to protect the long-term future of the sport. Most club owners endorse the so-called "financial fair play policy." Also, the European Union, usually at odds with soccer-specific laws, endorsed the reforms. "I welcome and support these," EU Sports Commissioner Jan Figel said. "I look forward to the implementation."

 

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