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COMMENT: FFP call will define the entire season
IN Portugal today, they will gather and advance their arguments. Fail to come to an agreement, and the entire Championship season could be plunged into farce.
Just three letters, FFP, have the potential to dominate the 2014/15 season.
For Blackburn Rovers and others, the incoming Financial Fair Play regulations will be the most important subject up for discussion when representatives of each of the 24 Championship clubs meet at the Football League’s AGM today.
Given that the Football League have decided to go all the way to Portugal again this year – presumably the conference rooms of England and Wales are booked up every June – hopefully they can make use of the trip by sorting the issue out once and for all.
But there is no guarantee of that. The point made by each of the 24 clubs today will very much depend on that club’s own predicament.
This is a political game. Everyone wants what is best for them.
Rovers and other potential big spenders want the FFP regulations changed, since they know they are on course for a transfer embargo in January.
Those with smaller budgets will understandably want the rules to stay as they are. The FFP rules will level the playing field, and play into their hands.
The Football League have a problem now. Whatever happens, there is potential for fury.
They had noble intentions when they introduced rules that limit losses clubs can make each year, but the regulations are so unwieldy that a degree from East Lancashire’s University College of Football Business is required just to make sense of them.
Even worse, they are potentially unworkable. Clubs who could fall foul of the rules are already mooting potential legal challenges.
The prospect of a number of sides facing transfer embargoes in January could cause chaos.
Some wonder whether the embargoes will actually be enforced if too many clubs are affected, since the Championship could descend into a mockery.
So the Football League are talking further with a view to altering the regulations. But how can they change even the slightest detail now?
If they do, some clubs will rightly point out that they have been planning for some time to fall in line with FFP – cutting their wage bill, suffering on the field as a result.
If the rules are altered, they will have done all of that for nothing.
The start of the new season is still two months away, but today could be the most important day of the whole 2014/15 campaign.
If this rumbles on further, the story of the Championship season will not be about football.
It will not even be about Vincent Tan or Massimo Cellino, who have now made Venky’s only the third most headline-worthy owners in the second tier – with the national media at least.
Instead, the season will be about the complaints of those who feel they have been wronged by the new regulations, one way or the other.
It will be about three letters: FFP.
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