FFP legal challenge steps up in Belgian Courts with new bid to prevent further implementation of UEFA’s financial balance requirement
10 October 2014 -- As is well known, the Court of First Instance in Brussels is currently considering a dispute about FFP between players 'agents and supporters, including the Manchester City FC Supporters Club (15,000 members and 168 clubs worldwide), represented by lawyers Jean-Louis Dupont and Martin Hissel, against UEFA and the Belgian Football Association
Through this action, the plaintiffs are seeking the Court of First Instance to refer the case before the Court of Justice of the EU (EUCJ) so that it decides on the compatibility of the UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations with EU law. The plaintiffs argue that the regulations amount to an "investment ban" and, as such, are a flagrant violation of EU competition law. Given a final ruling on the merits may take some time, today the plaintiffs have filed with the Court of First Instance in Brussels a request for a "provisional measure”.
Until such time the Belgian Court makes its final ruling on the merits of case, the provisional measure seeks to prohibit UEFA from moving into the second phase of the implementation of its "break-even requirement". In effect this aims to force UEFA to stick to the rule as currently applied (i.e. a deficit limit of up to €45 million) and prevents further hardening of the rule (a deficit limit of up to €30 million) as required by the FFP regulation.
The move does not ask the Belgian judge to stop UEFA's FFP implementation, rather, simply to prevent it from accelerating while the agents’ and supporters’ challenge is being considered by the Courts. This is likely to be helpful, also, for UEFA since it serves to limit UEFA’s financial risk in the event that the judge upholds the existing complaint and it is faced with damages from multiple parties.
It is now rests with the Court of First Instance in Brussels to fix the procedural timetable for the debate on the request for this interim measure.