OT -- is FFP already destroying Euro's top domestic leagues?

Submitted by superstringer on April 15th, 2013 at 8:36 PM

Bayern Munich's top executive today laments the lack of competition in the Bundesliga -- Bayern already won it with 6 to play, only needs 2 points to tie last year's record points total, and is +70 GD in 20 games. And Dortmund is way ahead of 3d on the German table:


And it's not just in Germany, right:

England:  MU is 15 up on the table.

Spain:  The big 2 are way ahead of the rest, as usual.  But it's not just any year.  Last year was a record point total for Real, and this year, Barca can eclipse that.

Italy:  Something closer to actual competition, but not really by much -- Juve is like 9 up.

Is it all coincidence?  The one factor that I can think might influence this is Financial Fair Play.  Aren't all of the teams are looking at the next few years, fearing the inability to comply with FFP rules, so they are already cutting back spending?  AC Milan is the most glaring example of this; Arsenal might be too (who knows, their spending is always criticized).  But looking across the board, the BIG revenue teams are just scortching their leagues the last 2 years, almost in record fasion.

This in part gets to the problem with FFP -- it "freezes" current competitiveness, as big-revenue teams continue to get richer, and lower-revenue teams have no help of a burst of spending to catch up.  I actually had a post on this a year ago or so, and some Euro footballer fans told me I was nuts.  And well... I present you, argument #1, the current standing in Germany, England, Spain and Italy.  So if you want competition, go watch France, or Ireland.  (OK, not Ireland.)  Or the CL... although, I'd point out, the CL's final 4 are 2 Germans and 2 Spainish, not exactly diversity.  (Dortmund's heroic comeback made it so, however.)

Does all this lead, ultimately, so a Super League as has been whispered in the past?



April 15th, 2013 at 8:40 PM ^

My greatest hope is that this leads to a super league. I absolutely salivate at the though of matchups such as United-Madrid happening every single week. That Qatar Dream League that came up earlier this year that ended up being fake sounded fantastic. It would be amazing to see all-star teams playing other all-star teams every single weekend, though it would suck to destroy all of the domestic leagues entirely.


April 16th, 2013 at 12:30 PM ^

So... the Champion's League? Having an international league competition would be nice for the quality of play, but it would destroy everything that makes domestic competitions unique. I think the current balance between tiered leagues in every country and international cup competitions is perfect.


April 15th, 2013 at 8:57 PM ^

FFP isn't inherently wrong, but in its current form it is doing more harm than good.  Firstly it is rather toothless.  Yes it can go so far as to ban clubs from international competition, but the violations clubs need to commit (ex: too much funding coming from owner) are easily skirted by the richest of owners.  (ex: family members becoming sponsers, etc.)


The penalties need to be progressive in my opinion as well.  That is, I think the financial penalties should scale with the financial size of the club.  Otherwise, when one of the giants breaks a rule--the deep pockets of their owner can get them out.  However, if a little club breaks a rule, it can paralyze the club for quite some time.

mgoblue No.1

April 15th, 2013 at 9:09 PM ^

I have to say Arsenal isn't being hampered by FFP, but just Arsene's reluctance to spend (or Kroenke's, who knows). But I think FFP will lead to a situation like the old-MLB (before luxury tax). Big teams will be able to spend big money still, however I think it will eliminate teams like Man City who come out of nowhere when a rich owner buys them and throws insane amounts of money at the team. I'm hoping that it will slow down excessive spending and will allow smaller clubs to afford to keep their big players (I know its a pipe dream). Hopefully one day it will change where every good player does not go to Barca, Real, or a big PL club, and actually remains with their smaller club (ex: Bale, Falcao)



April 15th, 2013 at 9:12 PM ^

Arsenal supporter here too...

Could you imagine our team if we still had all the players we've lost to Man City, Barcelona and United? We'd be head and shoulders above united and city and probably would be giving Barcelona everything they can handle..... sort of depressing . We get raided pretty much every year. 

mgoblue No.1

April 15th, 2013 at 9:18 PM ^

  This lineup would easily be challenging Man U for the title this year


              Nasri, Fabregas, Cazorla

                       Song/Arteta, Jack

Cole, Toure (when he was good), Mert/Kos/Verm, Sagna




April 15th, 2013 at 9:07 PM ^

Your England example makes your argument weaker. Chelsea and City have not cut back on spending at all and they spend more than Man U.... a bunch of lower spending teams are competitive in the BPL and they're the league with the most big spenders.

You should proably take out England and the EPL and put in PSG and Ligue 1... now THAT was a spending spree that put them head and shoulders above every other team in Ligue 1. 


April 15th, 2013 at 10:28 PM ^

financial fair play, a series of regulations by UEFA that limits how much debt a club can take on over a 3 year period.  Its supposed to limit the number of clubs that run into financial trouble especially those that overspend for their size and support, an epidemic in some leagues.  Think small market team taking on a New York Yankees payroll.


The net result however is that the largest clubs who have massive followings and make massive profits almost regardless of how much they spend have a huge advantage over smaller clubs who are now limited in their ambition to sign more expensive players.


Good idea, wrong implementation.


April 15th, 2013 at 10:18 PM ^

Can't destroy what was already destroyed. I'm biased obviously, being a fan of a smaller club but most leagues are dominated by a select few and it's awful. I'm a huge fan of parity and I find it hard to enjoy the Prem when I can predict the top 3 teams each year. I'm ore interested in the race for the last Europa spot and relegation battle than winner of the league (how I feel every year). I'm too lazy to look it up, but I counted the different clubs that finished top 2 in the 20sh years of the Prem. it was like 8. In the 20 previous years, 15 different clubs accomplished it. And the 20 years before that, like 18. My specifics are off, but you get the general idea. I haven't looked at other countries, but I'm sure it's similar.

FFP is great in theory, but it's current form isn't going to fix the real issue and I doubt anything will.


April 16th, 2013 at 8:34 AM ^

Being a fan of a smaller club is exciting in its own way, you just need to lower your expectations. Every year I dream of a CL stop, hope for a Europa spot, but am realistically expecting a relegation battle. This doesn't make the season any less interesting. It's not the equivalent of being an Astros/Marlins fan and having literally nothing to cheer for this year.


April 16th, 2013 at 9:39 AM ^

I'm definitely realistic about my club. The best Wolves could ever hope for in this climate is consistently finished around 8-12 in the Prem League. That is best case scenario. I'm actually somewhat enjoying being in the 2nd tier right now because the clubs are very even. Cardiff may be running away with the league but there is still quite a bit of parity. Crazy things happen at the 2nd level. Usually the last relegated team has around 45 pts at the end of the season. This year, 55 might be what you need for safety. I have no trouble whatsoever being interested in Wolves matches. I follow a club in each of the 5 major countries and four of them were relegated this last season. I'm a bad luck charm or something.

I'm just talking about the league in general though in my earlier comments. Tottenham, one of England's most storied clubs, has <1% chance of winning the Prem League. And they're much richer than alot of clubs. It's a travesty IMO.


April 15th, 2013 at 10:39 PM ^

For all you none soccer fans. What you have in Europe right now is essentailly if Michigan and OSU could persue their own televison contracts, so their is no sharing of the TV money so the big clubs have huge budgets and small clubs are depend on league sponserships just to break even. Also the huge clubs (chelsea, ManU, Bayren,Barca) also have billionare owners aka huge endowment. 

Also the large clubs just buy out the top players from the lower level clubs because the lower level clubs need the money. So this would be like if we could pay the lower big ten schools for their good players. 

Untill you fix this you have imbalance, i dont think FFP is doing much. 


/spelling errors are probably abundent


April 15th, 2013 at 11:26 PM ^

I don't like Mad Men but I don't go around negging ever MM thread and posting about how I hate it. It's a little bit pathetic.

And the reason you don't like it is because you probably don't understand it. I used to have your attitude when I was in high school, but now, I probably like soccer more than American football.


April 16th, 2013 at 9:26 AM ^

  And NASCAR . . . 

  And Golf . . . 

  And . . . 

Let's all pass legislation that everybody in the country must like one and only one approved sport.




April 16th, 2013 at 11:54 AM ^

everyone try their hardest to not be the guy (or girl) who needs to show how little they care about a topic by trying to antagonize people who do on a thread with a title that most sports fans could guess was about soccer.

There are worse things on the site, but the people who post on the WBB, soccer, softball threads denigrating the sport the thread is about are some of the most annoying. Same with the whole "NBA v. NHL debate", although that's a little different.


April 16th, 2013 at 12:16 AM ^

BUT I like seeing the best players playing together and think the FFP is a joke. I'll keep rooting for Man Utd , who are no longer the spending kings, to put out an entertaining line up each week led by the best coach Sir Alex and the Keith Richards of football, Giggsy....I got drunk with a bunch of Newcastle fans last year when I saw them play at West Brom. Cisse and Ba were magic. Rooted for them cause I love the stripes, had the best beer as their logo,and their fans are just mad, but they got cheap dumped Ba and now they are crap. I already have a crap team with the Detroit Lions - can't take two of them...  There is a super league. It's called the Champions League. The final four will just be incredible.... I like watching Barca a whole lot too... I also liked dating pretty girls instead of ugly ones.. doesn't make me a bad person!


April 16th, 2013 at 10:01 AM ^

if you like second rate football (it's closer and you can go to games)? Unless you are from the local town or have some personal connection (which I don't for any English team) I think Man Utd soon to be 20th  EPL run away title is a huge accomplishment especially with non VanDerSaar level GKing. They also gave the current best team, Real Madrid, all they could handle in the Champions League. Their current squad has missed a healthy Vidic and Ferdinand and is not a top spender even in the EPL....I went to Old Trafford as a bucket list thing back when Beckham played and now I am hooked. If you know the game, it is a shear joy to watch Alex Ferguson, adjust his lineup each week and win games where they are even or not the better side on paper.... Have you been to an EPL game? To see them live takes things to another level, even moreso that watching an NHL game live vs TV and does develop a fascinationof just how good these guys are.....I find it ironic that those who take the level competition viewpoint are huge UM fans. UM holds similar advantages over the Indianas of the world as the top football clubs do over second tier clubs. Why not be like John Feinstein and follow Ivy LEague? There is nothing wrong with that btw, just curious...


April 16th, 2013 at 10:18 AM ^

I'm not a bandwaggoner. I find no joy in following a team that wins year in and year out and there are no "lows." Forgive me if I don't think being knocked out in the round of 16 of CL or not winning the Prem a low. I've said the top teams are fun to watch. But that's all it is for me, just entertainment. Nothing I take seriously because they're just doing what they're supposed to be doing. And by not a top spender you mean, don't spend as much as Chelsea or ManCity. But it's not like they're getting by on tiddlywinks (RVP signing says hello).

I watch MLS games but don't follow a specific team. Being and living in Michigan, I'm waiting for the state to get a team. I love Detroit City FC games at Cass Tech though. Season ticket holder for the second year in a row ($35 not really a huge investment though haha).

I'm looking to get a Wolves game sometime in the next few years. Schedule doesn't really work out though and I'm not about to go overseas for a week. When I travel, I've gotta spend at least a month there. I'm looking at next summer, but I'd only be able to catch a friendly most likely. I follow Wolves because when I read about their history, I loved it. And the city is much like midwestern cities here in the states. They value blue coller work ethic much like the fans of Detroit teams appreciate it. I found a message board for Wolves that I love and get along quite well with the other posters.

I realize that there is inherent inequality in the way college football is set up. But if you read my posts you'd know I'm very cynical about college football these days. I watch Michigan games, that it's. I can't take the sport seriously anymore. I love the non-revenue sports more. But there's alot more natural parity in college football because of recruiting and roster turnover. Pro clubs can buy a great player and keep him for a long time, or easily replace him with an equal or better player. College athletics, you've got the guy on the field/court/ice for 4 years max. And they're not as easily replaced.  


April 16th, 2013 at 11:08 AM ^

That's like saying UM football has no real lows. Tell that to suicidal fans when we lose to MSU, OSU or ND,lol.  I don't follow you per se, but if you are one of the few here who are that don't take UM football seriously and are cynical of CFB and don't watch other teams - then disregard my comments..... My take is life is what it is: enjoy what is beautiful, change what you can, but otherwise deal with that what is not perfect... I have thought about catching a Detroit FC game, but with my schedule can really only make the occaisional UM game. Used to go more when Burns was the coach as I know him from beer leagues. What Brandon did to him sucked but that is another story... Back to Man Utd you have to admit Arsenal totally screwed up with RVP and others.  We lost Ronaldo for 80 million pounds, and signed Chicharito and RVP for about 30 million, so we saved 50 million  ; ) !! Man Utd are sort of like the Tigers, not the Yankees (City) or Dodgers ( Chelsea).... I watch football matches with a different perspective as I get older. I look at great managers andhow they adapt and also referees since I am one ( I know that is odd, but I get a charge out of good officials)... anyway keep up the football posts and good luck to Wolverhampton. One of my best buddies is a Nottingham Forest fanatic so I know where you are coming from. Cheers!


April 16th, 2013 at 2:14 PM ^

Lows are relative. But Michigan recently had a 3-9 season. That's a low for everyone. ManU doesn't and won't have real lows ever again unless something changes. Ignorance is bliss, but I'm not going to ignore the issues. I'm "impressed" with the accomplishments of clubs in Champions League, because it's a more even playing field. But domestic accomplishments for the big spenders (and ManU is a big spender) are irrelevant to me.


April 16th, 2013 at 4:06 PM ^

That's the beauty of Sir Alex. He wins games they have little business winning and keep them consistently excellent. There are several other big spenders who wished for such consistency. Guy like Benetez, Ancelotti, Grant can ruin even the highest payrolls.... are you impressed by the accomplishments of the Wolves? Looks like they are going to be relegated again even amongst low spending teams. I recall they have a very nice and big stadium.


April 16th, 2013 at 5:28 PM ^

Our front office is a mess.....decided to do a 180 from Mick McCarthy's style with a coaching hire, didn't give him the funds to bring in enough of his players or let him sell some of the leftovers we had. Players he did buy got injured. Sacked him, hired a guy that played more hoofball than Mick and is in way over his head. We brought in 0 transfers during t he season, but a couple loans. We've had 12 players miss 8+ matches this year due to injuries - including our top 2 scorers, top assist man, and our top two goalies. Been a mess. We deserve to be where we re based on how we've played though. Championship is a lot of fun though. Lots of parity both financially and in talent.


April 16th, 2013 at 8:15 PM ^

I know they have been a big mess from McCarthy on. Championship may be fun but you better win a few games or else it will be League One (you could be the Man Utd of League one).  I see Blackburn are struggling too. Saw them play at Bolton, which is close to Manchester, last year when they both were EPL. Very nice stadium and great atmoshere. You definitely need to make a trip asap out to the Holy Lands of football.


April 16th, 2013 at 12:16 AM ^

Used to follow closely, but can't stand watching it now, been off it for years. The diving, moaning, bitching, faking is all bad enough - but the Euro game is so heavily infused with overt and open racism, bigotry and xenophobia that it is a fundamental problem.


April 16th, 2013 at 12:35 AM ^

Much like the salary cap did for a couple years in the NHL. Let the free market system play out. Only look at Liverpool to see money spent does not equal success. It's spending it on the right players who fit the right system of play. That is what is brilliant with Barca and also with Alex Ferguson.


April 16th, 2013 at 12:43 AM ^

Quick thing on Germany: Bayern's run this year is going to break just about every German record there is (points, goal differential, clean sheets, earliest championship, etc.). This an unusual year, and considering the past standings, not indicative of a duopoly. Bayern finished second last year, but third the year before that, behind Leverkusen. Schalke finished second to Bayern in 2009/10. I wouldn't go as far as to declare an outright duopoly at this point, but I wouldn't be shocked if it happens either. Also, Dortmund was on the verge of bankruptcy about ten years ago, so their renaissance is all the more impressive.

The importance of the 50+1 rule in Germany cannot be understated. The rule stipulates that supporters must own more than half of the club, which prevents owners from acting as sugar daddies like at Chelsea, City, and PSG. Therefore, there will likely never be a German team that runs afoul of FFP (unless Schalke's situation gets worse, and that's a whole other story). As a result, the current two horse race in Germany is not because of FFP. Yes, Bayern can outspend everyone in the Bundesliga, but that's as because of their business practices/historical success, not FFP.

The thing to watch now is to see how UEFA enforces the rules. Malaga has been banned from European competitions for one year due to running afoul of these rules, but if UEFA wants to show that its policy has teeth, it needs to go after a team like PSG or City.


April 16th, 2013 at 8:21 AM ^

This year has been an absolute anomaly in the Bundesliga. Of all leagues, Germany's arguably has the most parity. In the last 20 years, absolute minnows (K'lautern, Wolfsburg) have won the league, and others have made a Cinderella run (Hoffenheim, which admittedly does have a billionaire benefactor, but was kicking around in the 6th division 20 years ago).

In addition to the 50+1 rule, German clubs are also constrained by the football federation's licensing requirement. As public member-owned entities, they are required to have balanced budgets every year, or else face point deductions or forced relegation. Debt financing, as done by e.g. Real, Liverpool, et al., simply isn't possible to that level. Clubs in dire straits financially (Schalke today, for example) are the exception. I don't think FFP will change much here.


April 16th, 2013 at 9:40 AM ^

Germany is ahead of the game when it comes to common sense on alot of issues. I believe it's required for businesses to have half their board made up of "regular" employees instead of big whigs consisting of the entire board like it is for most companies here in the states.


April 16th, 2013 at 11:27 AM ^

The FFP rules haven't kicked in yet.  PSG and its recent spending spree are evidence of this - they could never do that if FFP was in effect (Ligue 1 revenues aren't that great and their home stadium only holds 45K.)  The general perception is that even when they do, there will be so many exceptions that the rules will hardly matter.

Honestly, the major leagues really haven't been very competitive for some time now.  The Big Four (plus Man City)  have dominated the Premiership, Real/Barça la Liga, Bayern the Bundesliga, etc., for awhile now.  If anything, FFP should improve competitive balance if/when it comes into force (if it has real teeth).