With the Champions League group stages about to get underway, UEFA have finalised plans for how the extra money coming in this season from clubs who violated their financial fair play rules will be divided up. As expected for some time, they have chosen to spread it around amongst all compliant Champions League and Europa League sides.
The result of this finalised decision is that fines paid by Manchester City, Zenit St. Petersburg, and Paris Saint Germain will be divided equally amongst every club in the Champions and Europa Leagues this season that complied with FFP last season. This means that in England, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, and Everton all stand to receive additional funds.
It sounds an amusing and potentially effective way to discourage clubs from violating FFP, at least on the surface. However, between the two competitions, there are eighty participants. And the portion of the fines paid out to UEFA this summer—punishments are paid over multiple years and later payments can be avoided by reaching compliance—is around £20M.
Amongst compliant clubs, that means an extra quarter-million pounds when everything is said and done. UEFA can champion the fact that they're giving money back to the clubs, but compared to what's already awarded for making it into Europe, it is a pittance, and certainly not an amount that will cause the likes City to lose sleep over their domestic rivals receiving it.
City, Zenit, and PSG can afford the combined £20M they're paying out this season. And an extra quarter-million or thereabouts to league rivals isn't going to frighten them or put their positions near the top of domestic tables at greater risk. UEFA will be holding meetings in October to determine if there are alterations that could be made to the system, but change seems unlikely.
It shouldn't be, though, and as when their current system was first proposed, the answer seems obvious—fines should, rather than being divided amongst all clubs, be divided only domestically. Rather than giving a pittance to every club playing in Europe this season, give a significant sum to domestic rivals who are in Europe or who might have been if the offender hadn't qualified.
The current approach doesn't offer a real deterrent to the likes of City, Zenit, and PSG. Giving a million pounds or more to each of their nearest rivals domestically just might. It would also do more to compensate those sides that are directly impacted by non-compliance, as it could be weighted towards those whose position in Europe was threatened by a non-compliant side.
In England, it would mean City compensating Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton, and Tottenham—as well as Manchester United, who missed the Europa League by one spot. Everton would be given a larger sum for missing the Champions League by one spot. Arsenal and Tottenham would have stood to receive more had they failed to make European group play.
Instead, UEFA have set up a system that offers little deterrent value when it comes to big-spending offending clubs like City, Zenit, and PSG. Perhaps the intent is commendable, yet the execution is sorely lacking, providing only the appearance of deterrent for over-spending clubs while doing little that might actually cause them to reconsider their approach.