European football law update - Financial Fair Play, racism, Brazil stadia and Rangers troubles

05 March 2014 Published 05 March 2014 By: Adam Lovatt, Sean Cottrell

Sol Campbell


Rangers – troubles continue

As reported in this blog last week, Rangers financial difficulties appear to be resurfacing at an alarming rate.

A £1,500,000 loan was recently obtained from shareholders, seemingly to ensure that the club could continue to trade as a going concern until the end of the season.

This week, the battle for control of the club has intensified with former Director Dave King being asked to attend a Board Meeting to explain comments which he made at the weekend, telling fans not to make any season ticket payments to the club, when renewal forms come out later in the Spring. King is proposing that season ticket money is held in a separate trust account and given to the club when required, as opposed to on a lump sum basis in the summer. It is suspected that King is lining up some form of takeover bid for the club and is attempting to unsettle the existing board.

Rangers are of the view that the comments made by King are damaging the reputation of the club and that rumours of a second administration event in the space of just over two years are unfounded.

The concerns of King, and certain fans, is that Charles Green, the former Chief Executive of the Club, remains in a decision-making position at the Club. Indeed, it remains unclear to all outsiders who owns what. Green, was forced to resign as Chief Executive, following allegations that he was involved in the takeover by the Club by Craig Whyte, who pushed Rangers into their first insolvency event and was found not to be a 'fit and proper' person entitled to own a Scottish football club.

Whilst King has stated that he is of the view that an administration event is not imminent, rumours remain that Rangers have difficult times ahead. The implications of a second administration event and the impact it may have upon sponsorship and television money for the Scottish game, together with the competitive element which Rangers bring to the action on the park, cannot be underestimated.

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Racism in football

There have been two stories regarding racism in British football this week, one has received a lot of publicity, the other, not so.

Sol Campbell, the former Tottenham and Arsenal defender has stated that were he white, he would have been England Captain for ten years. He is of the view that there is a 'glass ceiling' which prevents a black player captaining the England national team.

Graham Taylor, who managed England from 1990-1993, has stated that the colour of skin was never a factor which he considered when he was selecting his England team, or indeed captain. It should be noted that Campbell received 73 caps for England and was captain for 3 of those games (none of which were competitive).

At the other end of the scale, Jordan Tapping of East Stirlingshire was subjected to racist abuse in a Scottish League 2 match away to Peterhead at the weekend. Tapping, who is 17, suffered 'extreme distress' as a result of the racist abuse and was substituted during the match. Police Scotland are investigating the abusive chants.

These incidents do suggest that whilst often in Britain, we criticise racism in other parts of Europe and the world in a football context, problems still exist in Britain, both at the highest and lowest levels of our domestic games. Whilst the perpetrators of the action against Tapping will hopefully be caught and punished accordingly, the claims by Sol Campbell suggest there is a more intrinsic level of racism exists within British football.

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Brazil Stadia problems

As reported in a previous blog, despite the World Cup being only three months away, FIFA and the world is watching and waiting for confirmation that the stadia which will host the 64 matches will be ready for the big kick off on 12 June.

One of the stadiums, the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, which is scheduled to host one of the semi-finals (likely to feature Brazil) has been in the news this week after part of the roof fell onto the pitch just hours before kick-off in a domestic match. The damage, which was caused during a storm, did not cause any injury.

Coupled with poor drainage system at the stadium, which resulted in puddles forming on the pitch before the match, FIFA may have another headache if the weather in Brazil in June causes further construction problems to develop. Whilst isolated incidents would be tolerated, the problem regarding the Brazilian stadia do not appear to be weakening in their intensity.

It has also been reported that the stadium scheduled to host the opening match between Brazil and Croatia will not be completed until less than four weeks before the start of the festival of football.

FIFA will be paying close attention to the progress of the stadia, as will the Brazilian authorities, to ensure that they are built to acceptable standards and in compliance with all health and safety laws.

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UEFA outline Financial Fair Play timetable

On the 03 February, the UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino provided an update on the their Financial Fair Play (FFP) timetable and the activities of the UEFA Club Financial Control Body (CFCB), a two-chamber body which oversees application of the UEFA club licensing system and financial fair play regulations. From the 2014/15 clubs in UEFA competitions must ensure they break-even.

The FFP timeline for the "monitoring work is ongoing, including requests for additional information and audits if necessary. The CFCB investigatory chamber is set to reach its decisions in late April; any cases referred to the adjudicatory chamber will have their final decisions in June; and decisions by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on any appeal cases are expected between the end of July and mid-August."

Interestingly, in the update UEFA confirmed that "of the 237 clubs monitored for break-even requirements, 104 are exempt due to having income and costs of less than €5m, 57 clubs have not been requested to submit additional information, while 76 clubs have been asked for additional information."

Infantino also took the opportunity to reconfirm UEFA's position on third party ownership: "third party ownership threatens integrity of competitions – if the same individual or company owns or controls various players at different clubs, this could influence results...Nor is third-party ownership compliant with Financial Fair Play".

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Further reading:

Financial Fair Play

Third party ownership

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Adam Lovatt

Adam Lovatt

Adam is a lawyer specialising in sports law with IMG. Adam has a wide range of commercial and litigation experience from his four years as a qualified solicitor. Adam has a passion for sports law and is currently undertaking a IP Law Masters programme with the University of London. He is passionate about most sports particularly football, golf and tennis.

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Sean Cottrell

Sean Cottrell

Sean is the founder and CEO of LawInSport. Founded in 2010, LawInSport has become the "go to sports law website" for sports lawyers and sports executives across the world.

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