Yeah, another post on Financial Fair Play. So if it’s TL;DR, just watch the above video and relax.

For the rest of you, one of the major weaknesses in criticism of FFP in English top flight football is that it presumes that conditions in the Premier League post-FFP would remain unchanged from before. They seem to assume that it’s a law that clubs will always require money to spend on wages and the transfer market to make a challenge, and for this reason, forcing clubs to not spend in excess of turnover is the same as condemning them to mediocrity forever.

However, there is a model for an approach to FFP that would preserve some measure of competitive parity, the ideal in which smaller clubs can one day catch-up the giants: the Bundesliga.

The top two professional tables in Germany have a break-even licensing requirement for their member clubs. Taken alone in a league without further regulation, this would likely fulfil the worst fears of FFP critics: permanent dominance of the top of the league table.

Yet FFP cannot merely be a standalone measure to prevent clubs from spending well in excess of their revenues on the back of investor cash. The Bundesliga’s 50+1 member (fan) ownership rule for example ensures that Stefan Szymanski’s vision of owners not bothering to invest in players because of forced profitability—i.e. why spend money to improve and make profits when we have to make profits to stay in the PL?—won’t leave clubs in competitive stasis.

Moreover, the Bundesliga does not sit in a development vacuum. Changes to the academy system in 2000 sowed the seeds for today’s current talent pool, in which academy products help prevent a transfer bonanza every summer window.

Finally, Bundesliga clubs don’t attempt to hose fans with inordinately high ticket prices, but regard match day revenues as an economy of scale: lots more seats for less money.

The result? A profitable league (14 of 18 clubs made a profit in 2011-12) whose revenues have increased year over year from a variety of sources, and whose clubs now challenge the best in Europe. Break even requirements certainly didn’t bring this about alone, but formed one part of a comprehensive approach.

For those who say that there is no way English football would permit these changes, they would be correct, for the time being. But FFP is at least one step, and the changes proposed as part of the Elite Player Performance Plan could help Premier League challengers a lower-cost source of players, and lower league clubs a much-needed source of income. Increased fan ownership in clubs would provide an incentive for owners to improve the on-field product in spite of enforced profitability, and the Premier League might look to expanding stadia and lowering ticket prices as a means to increase ticket revenue, not lower it.

Comments (8)

  1. I fail to see where you even mention permanent mediocrity for all but the top 6ish teams?

    • I mean mention how it would not be an issue in the future..

      • I have in many previous posts. There is no guarantee particularly without a salary cap, but shrewd investment is usually a good method. Wolfsburg won the Bundesliga in 08-09, Stuttgart a few years before that.

    • Oh cuz the BPL differs how?
      (i guess with only top 4 teams in the BPL and with the fact that 7 different teams have won the Bundesliga since 1990, and only 5 teams have won in the BPL and the fact that Germanys national team regularly challenges in the World Cup and Euro whereas England doesnt)

      I will grant you one thing, which seems to be changing, Bundesliga teams dont traditionally do as well in club tournaments, Id put good money down thatll change in the near future.

  2. Permanent mediocrity. Isn’t that just another way of saying NFL? Seems to have worked out for them.

    • I see your point, but north american sports are completely different as you are rewarded for being bad through drafts, in european soccer if you are bad you get punished and lose cash and players.

  3. haha kicked in the nads.

    (sorry, someone had to be the punk)

    on a slight side bar, how does this,
    “Finally, Bundesliga clubs don’t attempt to hose fans with inordinately high ticket prices, but regard match day revenues as an economy of scale: lots more seats for less money. ”
    come into play in the bundusliga? is it a cultural thing or is it mandated from the league? it works really well and what ever the formula is I think it should be copied. I mean a BvB match is just absolutely insane to watch …..and that’s just the fans.

    Following the German model would be a fascinating experiment.

  4. The Bundesliga is excellently run. No doubt the best-run of any of the majors on many levels.

    But do you think for an INSTANT that the EPL – dominated as it is by revenue monsters with immense political power – would adopt anything like the Bundesliga template?

    Please. And why is it that people OTHER than mercenary rag scum are in any way in favour of any of this? As I posted before, without the new money owners coming in over the course of the EPL era, the ONLY TWO CLUBS THAT WOULD HAVE EVER WON would have been the rags and the Arse. And the rags would have won something like the last 8 and 17 of the 20 overall.

    What the hell do you people want? The Scottish Premier League after Rangers got “administered?” Or some banana republic country where one team wins 95% of their League titles? Because that is kind of what the EPL absent City, Chavski, and the 1994 Blankcheck Rovers would have been.

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