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What do the changes in FFP mean for England’s top five clubs?



Since the inception of Financial Fair Play in 2011, it has garnered a number of supporters and critics. In a radio interview earlier this week Michel Platini stated that while he felt FFP was working well – it would be eased in the summer. At first glance, it appears that FFP has succeeded in its aim of reducing the net financial losses for European clubs – as the losses peaked at 1.7bn euros in 2011 and have sunk to around 400m euros in 2014. However, critics argue that there are issues that need addressing with regards to structure, fairness, and increase competitiveness.

The main aim of FFP is to see clubs that are part of UEFA operate within their means and keep in accordance with the ‘break-even requirement’. It also aimed to maintain competition and stability across Europe as well as a more even market. On the face of it at least, FFP has achieved this as clubs can no longer spend huge sums of money as freely as they once could – and net financial losses have dropped significantly. However, many critics argue that taking away the free-will style of spending and investment has led to a new form of unfairness that will restrict sides wishing to break into the European footballing elite. In an attempt by those to become Champion’s League contenders and stronger sides within their own divisions many sides have encountered the sanctioning power of UEFA. For example, PSG and Manchester City were fined £49m, the likes of Nottingham Forest, Leeds, and Blackburn given transfer embargos. In a more extreme case, Malaga were banned from European competition following breaching the rules of FFP.

The current format of FFP has come under heavy criticism from many areas of the game. For example, many have argued that it is too inflexible and only truly benefits those that are in the very privileged position of sitting at the very top of the games financial pyramid –and reaping all the commercial and broadcasting revenues that come with it. This was illustrated by Jose Mourinho who lamented the point that FFP made it “easier for Manchester United”, but in typical Jose fashion; the self-declared Special One stated that it was “more fun” playing with the restrictions. This is turn links to a further criticism which points out that stopping clubs from spending beyond their means strengthens the position of teams at the top of the game as it means that owners of smaller clubs attempting to compete with the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United cannot as they are unable to speculate with their own money. This means that the smaller clubs cannot compete for the best players in the world against the established elite.  This has caused a great deal of concern for sides such as PSG and Manchester City who despite their enormous financial backing; cannot spend as freely as they would like and this means that they have yet to fully break what would be considered Europe’s elite clubs. Furthermore, clubs such as AC Milan would not be a particularly appealing investment for foreign owners as opposed to in previous years where a club could be pushed into Europe’s elite in a very short period of investment – investors would have to build clubs up gradually through years of measured investment.

So what does the easing of the rules of Financial Fair Play mean? Well, one possibility could be further struggles for sides that attempt to adopt an economically stable and sustainable approach to footballing finance such as Liverpool and Arsenal. Liverpool owner John W Henry and the Fenway Sports Group would have hoped for stricter rules surrounding FFP and have previously stated that “the biggest challenge for us has been the ignoring of Financial Fair Play”. After falling out of the Champion’s League positions after just one season with talismanic captain Steven Gerrard heading stateside this summer and it looking increasingly unlikely that Raheem Sterling will be a Liverpool player next season – it could spell an uphill battle for the prudent Merseyside outfit to return to past glories. Furthermore, Arsene Wenger has openly criticised the fashion in which the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City have gone about their business. However, despite the groans coming from some areas of the English game – it is from the rest of Europe where a lot of the pressure for these changes has emerged. The emergence of the new £5.14bn TV deal struck between media companies and the Premier League would have sounded alarm bells across Europe as this lucrative TV deal would allow for English sides to spend more than their European counterparts as a result of the increased broadcast revenue streams. This was also alluded to by Wenger, who stated that he felt the new TV deal “has pushed some clubs in Europe to want this [FFP] to be more flexible for them so they can compete better”. However, for clubs that are slightly more aggressive with their spending the easing of FFP could spell good news. Juventus have dominated Serie A in recent years, but the proposed changes could lead to increased spending at sides such as Roma and Inter Milan as they now have the leeway to loosen the purse-strings should they wish.

Football is an ever-changing environment, so it is of vital importance that changes to FFP and other policies within football adapt to the modern game. As previously mentioned, there is a genuine fear from many within the game that the status quo which is so enjoyed by the football’s current elite may never be disturbed and that in my opinion clearly doesn’t suit one of the main aims of FFP which was to allow for more competition and market stimulation. It is clear that it is going to be very complicated for UEFA to find the correct balance that not only presents an equal playing field for clubs across Europe, but an environment where clubs can be ambitious and breaking into the higher regions of the game is not simply an unattainable goal. Although, with a number of legal cases being spearheaded against UEFA by Belgian lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont; the man who famously forced FIFA into overhauling its transfer system in 1995 with the introduction of the Bosman Ruling – these changes may be imminent. However, it is integral that UEFA figure out the solution to this particular issue in order for FFP to be remembered as a fair and balanced ruling – as opposed to a mechanism that caused more controversy than regulation.

Calum is a Reading fan and has been a season ticket holder for many years. He is currently studying for a degree in Sport & Exercise Psychology.


Tottenham Hotspur fans react to Danny Welbeck dive

Tottenham Hotspur fans were not pleased with Danny Welbeck’s dive v AC Milan.



Arsenal successfully knocked AC Milan out of the Europa League last night with a 3-1 win at the Emirates Stadium. The hero of the night was England forward Danny Welbeck. The striker scored two goals as Arsenal completed a deserved 5-1 aggregate victory over the Rossoneri.

But Milan had taken an early lead through Hakan Calhanoglu’s bamboozling long-range strike. Arsenal, at that stage, were looking on the ropes. Welbeck though won and then dispatched a penalty to level the scoring. The word ‘won’ being the optimum word.

Welbeck dived for the penalty, there is no doubt about that. Ricardo Rodriguez barely breathed on the Arsenal man, who tumbled to the ground hopefully. When the penalty was given, he looked in disbelief.

Tottenham Hotspur’s English midfielder Dele Alli (2L) is booked for a dive during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on February 4, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

For Tottenham Hotspur fans it was a moment they did not appreciate.

Spurs have seen Dele Alli victimised throughout the season, and some would say rightly so, for his diving. There is no doubt that the England midfielder has dived this season and not many Tottenham fans would suggest not.

But the anger here lies with what Tottenham fans believe is hypocrisy. There is also a certain level or irony given a thinly veiled dig by Arsene Wenger against Spurs’ players this season.

After the highly controversial 2-2 draw at Anfield, where Harry Kane was accused of diving v Liverpool, Wenger had this to say, as reported by the BBC:

“I remember there were tremendous cases here when foreign players did it.

“But English players have learned very quickly and might be the masters now.”


“Sometimes players play a little bit with the rules. How far can you go? That is down to the referees.”

With Arsenal their next Premier League opponents, Arsene Wenger’s barb was not hard to see.

When that statement came out Tottenham fans quickly pointed out occasions when Arsenal’s English stars had been caught diving. Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott were prominent examples. Now, in Welbeck, Tottenham have seen another.

Arsenal fans will be happy that their team have booked a place in the next round of the Europa League. On balance it was more than a fair result as over two legs Arsenal outplayed the Italian giants.

But the Welbeck moment certainly put an asterix on the game for Spurs fans.

Here is some of the best reaction from Twitter…

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AC Milan

Victory in Milan, but is this another false dawn for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger?

Arsenal were triumphant in Milan despite their recent miserable form.

Jake Jackman



Photo: Getty Images

Arsenal ended their losing run of four matches with an excellent performance away to AC Milan in the Europa League. This competition has the potential to save the Gunners season and the commitment from every player suggested that they want to go all the way.

They were coming up against a team full of confidence under Gennaro Gattuso. Milan hadn’t lost a match since the end of December. The Serie A club hadn’t conceded a goal in six and had won five of those inside ninety minutes.

These sides came into this fixture in remarkably different form, but football is played on grass and not on paper.

Despite Milan having more attempts, it was Arsenal who created the better chances. They had a couple of half-chances early on before the opening goal.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has had a hot and cold start to life in a Gunners’ shirt, but he was one of the best players on the pitch in Italy. His goal was emphatically taken as he drove the ball past Gianluigi Donnarumma.

It is important to capitalise when you are on top, especially away from home in European competitions and Arsenal did just that. As the first-half progressed, they continued to create the better opportunities. Both Danny Welbeck and Mkhitaryan had good chances to double the visitors’ lead, but they were squandered.

(Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

In stoppage-time of half-time, Arsenal scored a second to give them a commanding lead in the tie. It was a great move from the team and Mesut Ozil found Aaron Ramsey who coolly rounded Donnarumma before putting the ball into the net.

The first-half performance from Arsenal was one of the best that supporters have seen this season. They were better all over the pitch and showed the work rate that they had lacked in previous weeks. Milan pushed in the second half, but they couldn’t penetrate the Gunners’ defence.

Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi were both excellent. Arsene Wenger will be hoping that both are returning to their best after some uncharacteristic errors in previous matches. The centre-back pairing made eight ball recoveries and were always in the right position on Thursday.

Patrick Cutrone is a teenager with a big future, but the young striker had no luck out of the Arsenal defence and that will encourage the manager.

Another player to emerge with credit is Danny Welbeck. The ineligibility of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the injury of Alexandre Lacazette means that the Englishman started the game up front for Arsenal. It was a huge opportunity for him after being pushed down the pecking order at the club and he took it with both hands.

The Englishman worked tirelessly and caused problems with his movement.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Although his final product wasn’t great, he was a constant threat and led the defensive effort from the front. Welbeck will never be a leading Premier League striker, but he is effective in matches such as this one. He deserves more opportunities during the run-in.

It would be too soon to get carried away for Arsenal fans. There are still questions regarding Arsene Wenger and the work rate of the players, but this was an excellent performance that finally provides the club with positive momentum. They have had a miserable few weeks and the supporters can get excited about their team once again.

When the draw was made, a lot of supporters checked their expectations when it came to the Europa League. Milan were the overwhelming favourites, but Arsenal have taken a dominant position in the tie and should be able to finish the job in London.

If they can do that, they will move into the quarter-final stage. Although it will be difficult to win it, they will have as good a chance as any.

There have been many false dawns for Arsenal in recent years and this could be another one. That said, it takes enormous character to go away to a huge stadium like the San Siro after a poor run of form and win comfortably.

Considering the criticism that they have had for their lack of desire, few would have thought the Gunners to be capable of a result like this.

It is now up to Wenger to prove that he can get this level of effort and performance out of his players on a regular basis. The Frenchman remains in a difficult position with no margin for error. If he is going to keep his job, he needs to finish the season strongly and win the Europa League.

It won’t be an easy challenge, but this performance and result will give him hope that he can upset the odds to claim his first European trophy.

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Brighton 2-1 Arsenal: Three talking points from the Amex

Arsenal lost for a fourth successive game as Brighton & Hove Albion bullied their opponents into submission.

Rob Meech



Photo: Getty Images

Arsenal suffered their fourth consecutive defeat in all competitions as Brighton & Hove Albion took a giant leap towards Premier League survival.

The pressure on Gunners boss Arsene Wenger, which has intensified since the turn of the year, looks set to reach new heights after another dismal day at the office for his charges.

Goals from Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray put the Seagulls in control before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pulled one back for the visitors on the stroke of half-time.

Despite enjoying the lion’s share of possession, Arsenal were unable to muster an equaliser.

For Brighton, this was a huge result that lifted them seven points clear of the relegation zone.

Here are three talking points…

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Is beleaguered Wenger’s position now untenable?

It lurches from one disaster to another for Wenger.

He probably thought the nadir had been reached after last weekend’s limp performance in the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City, when his future became the main topic of debate.

The Frenchman would have hoped for a reaction from his players in the subsequent fixtures.

Instead, his side were brushed aside against City in the Premier League before producing another sub-standard display here against Brighton.

Added to their shock Europa League reversal at home to minnows Ostersunds, it is the first time Arsenal have lost four successive matches since 2002.

After last season’s FA Cup triumph, Wenger penned a new contract that takes him through to the summer of 2019.

Now, however, it’s difficult to see how he can last beyond the end of the current campaign.

Perhaps only by lifting the Europa League, which would automatically qualify Arsenal for the Champions League, could Wenger realistically remain in situ.

Even then, it may not be enough. His players look devoid of any confidence and need an injection of new ideas.

(Photo by Glyn Kirk/Getty Images)

Brighton take a massive step towards safety 

The focus will understandably be on Arsenal, but Brighton’s display should not be overlooked.

This victory extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to four games and has all but banished thoughts that they might be dragged into a relegation scrap.

Yes, it was a good time to face Arsenal, but Chris Hughton’s side made a fast start with two early goals that went a long way to recording their first win over the Gunners since 1982.

Brighton’s performance bore all the hallmarks of their season so far.

Despite being one of the lowest scorers in the division, they took their chances when they came, exploiting Arsenal’s weakness from set pieces and aerial balls.

In the second half, the home side remained very organised defensively, which was key when the Gunners upped the tempo.

Modest and unassuming, Hughton has done a terrific job on the south coast.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Defensive shortcomings continue to haunt Arsenal 

Wenger has regularly spoken of his belief that Arsenal cannot compete on a level playing field with the likes of Manchester City.

And while his side’s record against fellow ‘Big Six’ clubs is regularly scrutinised, the Gunners’ results against the lesser lights have not been good enough for a club with Champions League aspirations.

In 2018 alone, Arsenal have been beaten by Swansea City, Bournemouth and now Brighton in the Premier League, while losing to Nottingham Forest and Ostersunds in cups.

A lack of leadership has long been an issue on the pitch and it’s an area Wenger has consistently ignored.

Defensively, the Gunners are too easy to bully.

Take Shkodran Mustafi’s defending for the first goal in the Carabao Cup final last weekend, for example.

Particularly away from home, Arsenal are prone to imploding.

Despite the attacking talent Wenger has at his disposal, his failure to invest in proven defenders at the top level looks set to cost him dearly.

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