Liverpool are one of seven clubs under investigation by Uefa for potential breaches of financial fair play (FFP) regulations, European football’s governing body announced yesterday.
The Merseyside club were absent from European competition last year and only recently submitted detailed accounts to the governing body, which dictates that losses must be restricted to £35.4 million over a two-year window.
Liverpool reported losses of £49.8m for the 2012-13 season, and £40.5m for the ten-month period before that, and join Monaco, Roma, Besiktas, Inter Milan, Krasnodar and Sporting Lisbon in being subjected to investigations relating to “potential break-even breaches”.
A Uefa statement read: “The CFCB (club financial control body) has opened formal investigations into seven clubs as they disclosed a break-even deficit on the basis of their financial reporting periods ending in 2012 and 2013.
“These clubs will need to submit additional monitoring information during October and November upon the deadlines set by the CFCB, subsequent to which an additional communication shall be made and conservatory measures may be imposed.”
Liverpool face no immediate sanction as they prepare to provide further details to Uefa throughout the next two months, though the provisional withholding of Champions League funds lingers as a potential next step. The Reds are thought to be confident they will avoid such penalties by virtue of lucrative new commercial deals and writing off some previous losses.
FFP allows certain spending streams, including youth development and stadium expenditure, to exist outside of its strict guidelines and Liverpool will argue that a £35m chunk of their 2011-12 deficit was attached to former co-owner Tom Hicks’ aborted plans for a new stadium on Stanley Park. Manchester City and Paris St Germain were the clubs hit hardest by Uefa last season for breaching FFP rules – they were each fined £49m and handed restrictions on transfer spending and a reduction in Champions League squad size.
Uefa has also announced that prize money has been held back from five clubs – Bursaspor, CFR Cluj, Astra Giurgiu, Buducnost Podgorica and Ekranas – as a result of non-payments to other clubs, players and/or tax authorities.
Reflecting on the recent work of CFCB and the FFP regulations, the Uefa statement continued: “The introduction of the Uefa club licensing and financial fair play regulations has already had a very positive impact on the scale of overdue payables, as they have decreased from 57 million euros in June 2011 to eight million euros in June 2014. In addition, aggregate losses reported by Europe’s first-division clubs in the 2013 financial year have gone down to 800 million euros from a record-reported deficit of 1.7 billion euros in 2011.”
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said the club are comfortable with the Uefa investigations because they support the FFP system.
Rodgers said: “It’s obviously something that will be dealt with by the directors. It’s something we’re comfortable with because we’re great advocates of financial fair play. It’s ongoing with the club.”
Rodgers is neither surprised nor alarmed by reports linking Real Madrid with a bid for Raheem Sterling. The 19-year-old forward, whose contract at Anfield runs until 2017, is one of the brightest talents in the Premier League and has had an impressive start to the season.
“It shows that he’s playing exceptionally well,” said Rodgers. “I think you could probably link Raheem with every club in the world at the moment. He’s a fantastic young talent. I’ve nothing really to add to it. There’s obviously lots of speculation every day about players coming and going here at Liverpool.
“He’s a wonderful boy who’s developing very, very well here. I think him and his representatives and the people close to him know how comfortable he is here and I’m sure at some point in the future, whatever contract we’re looking to work with will be sorted, but he’s still got three years left and there’s no rush from my perspective.”
Sterling is likely to be a key figure for Liverpool in tomorrow’s Merseyside derby against Everton at Anfield, when both teams will be looking to get back to winning ways in the Premier League. Rodgers has not ruled out having Daniel Sturridge available, with the England striker having been sidelined by a thigh strain suffered on international duty earlier this month.