Commentary

New pressures may force European spending restrictions

Globalization and advances in technology are often portrayed in negative terms these days. The opportunities they provide for some are obstacles for others.

The expansion into new markets -- namely, the United States, China and other Asian countries -- has provided new opportunities for Europe's elite, the EPL clubs, and clubs like Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

New UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin is concerned, though, that the gap between Europe's richest clubs and their competitors is getting too wide and says changes might have to be made to restrain spending, limit squad sizes and change transfer rules.

“The great opportunities brought by technology giving access to everyone, anywhere, at any time, on a scale unimaginable 10 years ago and with interaction not fathomed five years ago, can also bring dangers if we are not careful," Ceferin said on Wednesday. "UEFA needs to be prepared to appropriately tackle relevant issues such as the decrease in competitive balance within European club competitions and secondary effects affecting domestic competitions.”

Ceferin was elected with support from smaller European federations whose top clubs can no longer compete with the top clubs in Europe.

“The increasing gap between some of us can be accelerated by globalization and technological change,” he said. “We cannot allow the greatness of some to overshadow and drown out the rest. If we allow gaps to become too great we will be neglecting those who have little opportunities. We face a threat that the bottom becomes unstable because the rest of the world is focused on the top.”

Until now, the steps UEFA has taken against teams for excessive spending related to just that -- teams backed by wealthy businessmen who were spending more than they brought in from ticket sales, television and other commercial deals. Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain -- both backed by Gulf money -- were hit with fines and a reduction in squad restrictions.

New restrictions such as a luxury tax would penalize teams for spending above certain limits, regardless of their losses. (Both MLB and the NBA have luxury taxes.) Ceferin said UEFA would also have to consider "squad limitations and fair transfer rules to avoid player hoarding and the excessive concentration of talent within a few teams."

One area of concern is the hoarding of talent. Chelsea, first in the English Premier League, has 36 players -- many of them internationals -- on loan. By distributing them across clubs in Europe -- some big and some small -- it effectively reduces the pool of talent available to its competition.

Only once in the last 20 years has a team from outside Europe's big four leagues reached the UEFA Champions League final. Portugal's Porto beat France's Monaco, 3-0, in 2004.

The days of a Portuguese team like Porto or Benfica or a Dutch team like Ajax or PSV winning the Champions League are long over. Monaco is in the quarterfinals of this year's Champions League, but few give it a chance of winning.
2 comments about "New pressures may force European spending restrictions".
  1. Quarterback TD, March 23, 2017 at 8:38 a.m.

    What people fail to acknowledge is how much money teams like Barcelona, Chelsea etc spend on their program and by program I am talking everything from ground up like Academies, Infrastructure, players, promotions etc. Some teams like Barcelona is even responsible for the creation of the leagues lik La Liga. To build these colossal teams requires a lot of revenue and that revenue is generating on developing their products to satisfy their consumers.. Teams like Ajax in Holland should be the same level of the Barcelonas and Chelseas but I am not sure why but guess is because they are not producing the Cruyff anymore.

  2. Daniel Clifton, March 23, 2017 at 1:07 p.m.

    I don't see how it is competitive or interesting for viewers to see the same teams winning every year. Leicester City last year was such a great story because they came out of nowhere to win the English Premier League title. American baseball doesn't have a salary cap, but you also don't see the same teams winning the World Series every year. I think UEFA needs to make some changes to bring about more competitive balance.

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