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Former UEFA chief warns of ‘enormous danger’ for rivals after Man City decision

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Manchester City’s Champions League reprieve will prompt European football to “degenerate” into a contest between three Middle Eastern states, warns former UEFA director of communications, William Gaillard, reports liverpoolecho.co.uk.

Liverpool’s closest challengers in this season’s Premier League will be allowed to compete in next season’s Champions League after their two-year UEFA ban was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The club was cleared of “disguising equity funds” and their original €30 million fine was reduced to €10million.

Gaillard, who was the senior advisor to fellow Frenchman, Michel Platini, when he was UEFA president, helped launch the European governing body’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) system, devised to which he CAS ruling now appears to undermine.

FFP was brought in to restrict clubs from using investment from wealthy benefactors to spend beyond their means generated from income over set timescales.

However, Gaillard said: “With this kind of sentence from CAS, Manchester City can receive billions from the Emirates and the whole contest will basically become a tournament in Europe between Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – I don’t know if the Chinese want to join in.

“That’s really the enormous danger that professional club football is facing in Europe.

“The €10million fine is like giving a tip to a waiter in a café.

“The whole issue is the future of the game. Can it survive when it becomes maybe just a contest between three Middle Eastern states?

“I think there will be a lot of dismay on behalf of the other clubs because it leaves them unprotected, including the English clubs.

“When you have an owner who is in football because he wants to make a legitimate profit, to be faced with a competitor who has the deepest pockets in the world and endless money is incredibly discouraging.

“If I were a legitimate investor, I would divest from football. You can’t compete.”

Gaillard believes that European football needs to impose tight spending restrictions on clubs if the sport is to survive as a competitive product.

He said: “I was involved in the construction of FFP. My point was we need competitive balance but the others disagreed.

“So I completely agree with Aleksander Ceferin (the current president of UEFA) that if FFP should be repealed then we should be focused on competitive balance just like the rules in the US with luxury tax (additional costs paid by American sports teams who spend over the agreed salary cap) or wealth tax or salary caps.

“That’s the only way to keep our game unpredictable which is the main characteristic of any game.

“We need to look at very drastic measures, otherwise the game will degenerate.”


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