With prize money from European competition being withheld by UEFA—at least until further investigations can be completed—from 23 clubs as the first step towards full implementation of Financial Fair Play in 2014, the governing body's attempt to reign in unsustainable spending is finally beginning to move from talk to implementation.
So far, a handful of recognisable names such as Athletico Madrid, Malaga, Fenerbahce, and Sporting CP have found themselves in the firing line, but many won't believe that UEFA is willing to to punish bigger clubs who break their financial guidelines until the investigations and warnings turn into meaningful punishment.
Given that the purchase of Liverpool Football Club by Fenway Sports Group was largely predicated on UEFA following through on Financial Fair Play, then, it's no surprise that Ian Ayre has of late begun to publicly push for UEFA to follow through.
"It is very important for the credibility of the UEFA to impose sanctions," said Ayre, who as reported by Agence France-Presse went on to suggest stadium naming rights deals like ones that saw Manchester City and PSG each given nine-figure paydays by companies with ties to their ownership groups are little more than attempts to get around Financial Fair Play regulations
"We need a rigorous application of the rules when it comes to all parties," he said. "There is a legitimate market when it comes to legitimate sponsorship contracts, and what is reasonable must be respected." Ayre further went on to say that Liverpool would support a transfer ban for clubs found guilty of breaking UEFA's regulations once the rules go into full effect.
Meanwhile, Ajax managing director Henri van der Aat went even further when talking about his desire to see those who spend beyond their means punished. "We need tough sanctions," he said, "because if clubs like Real Madrid don't pay the price it has no effect."
And his answer for how UEFA should punish such wilful over-spenders as the Spanish giants was harsh but simple: ban them from European competition.
"The Champions League will survive without one or two of the best clubs. There are plenty of other good teams."