UEFA relaxes financial fair play rules amid pandemic

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin during a press conference following the UEFA Executive Committee meeting. (Reuters)
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Updated 19 June 2020

UEFA relaxes financial fair play rules amid pandemic

  • The FFP rules were brought in to combat growing debt in European football

LAUSANNE, Switzerland: UEFA has opted to temporarily soften its financial fair play (FFP) rules to help clubs impacted by the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis, European football’s governing body announced on Thursday.

FFP rules mean that, over a three-year period, clubs competing in European competition are not permitted to lose more than €30 million ($33.7m).

However, given the damage done to the footballing economy by the interruption to the sport caused by the pandemic, UEFA has agreed to a loosening of the rules which, it says, “aim at addressing the actual problem which is revenue shortfall due to COVID-19 and not financial mismanagement.” 

It means that clubs will be given longer than usual to show they have met payments owed on transfers and salaries, while “the assessment of financial year 2020 is postponed for one season, and will be assessed together with the financial year 2021.” 

These measures do not impact on decisions already taken before the crisis, so for example French club Marseille are still set to be punished after they were referred in March to the adjudicatory chamber of UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body for not complying with an agreement to balance their books.

Manchester City have been banned from Europe for two years and handed a €30 million fine for serious breaches of FFP regulations between 2012 and 2016.

The English club have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, which will announce its judgement on the case in July.

The FFP rules were brought in to combat growing debt in European football.

Assessments began in 2011 when European clubs reported overall losses of 1.7 billion euros. In contrast, according to UEFA’s most recent annual “benchmarking” report, the 700 top-tier clubs across the continent made a combined profit of 140 million euros in 2018.

Meanwhile, UEFA has said it wants a harmonized European transfer window this summer closing on Oct. 5, ahead of next season’s Champions League and Europa League group stages.

Following its latest executive committee meeting held via videoconference, UEFA said clubs would have until October 6 to register players for the group stage of next season’s European club competitions.

On Wednesday it was announced that the 2020-21 Champions League would start on Oct.  20, with the Europa League group stage starting two days later.

The summer transfer window in Europe usually closes at the start of September, although individual countries do not all follow the same dates.

Football is still adapting after the current season was interrupted in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

FIFA has already permitted countries to open their transfer windows up to four weeks before the delayed season has been completed, although any new signings would not be eligible until next season.

Several countries are only just resuming competitions, with the seasons in the English Premier League and Spain’s La Liga not set to finish until late July. Italy’s Serie A will not now finish until early August.

On Wednesday UEFA announced that this season’s Champions League would be completed with a “final eight” straight knock-out format in Lisbon from Aug.  12 to 23.

Similar formats have been adopted for the latter stages of the Europa League, in Germany, and the women’s Champions League, in Spain.


Rays rally with walkoff stunner to level World Series against Dodgers

Updated 26 October 2020

Rays rally with walkoff stunner to level World Series against Dodgers

ARLINGTON, United States: Brett Phillips’s single scored two runs and the Tampa Bay Rays walked off with a stunning 8-7 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers Saturday that knotted the World Series at two games apiece.
The Rays became the first team in post-season history to homer in four straight innings, but they trailed 7-6 heading into the bottom of the ninth.
With two out and two on, Phillips — who entered the game in the eighth as a pinch runner — was down to his last strike in the ninth when he singled to right center field off Dodgers closing pitcher Kenley Jansen and Kevin Kiermaier scored from second base.
Randy Arozarena racing from first, rounded third after the ball bounced off the glove of Dodgers outfielder Chris Taylor.
Arozarena tripped between third and home and looked done for, but Dodgers catcher Will Smith bobbled the throw to the plate and Arozarena was able to scramble forward and throw himself headfirst across the plate in time.
“Golly, what a special moment,” said Phillips, who last got a hit in the Rays’ 58th game of the regular season on September 25.
“I am having a hard time putting my emotions into words,” Phillips said. “Baseball is fun.”
Kiermaier called the ending — which sent the Rays into a frenzy of celebration on Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, “truly incredible.”
Arozarena notched a record-breaking ninth home run of the post-season. Kiermaier, Hunter Renfroe and Brandon Lowe also homered for the Rays, who are seeking the first World Series title in franchise history.
The Dodgers, back in the World Series for a third time in four years after disappointments in 2017 and 2018, are seeking their seventh title — but a first since 1988.
“This is certainly a tough one,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “They were the best team all year in the American League.
“They are not going to give anything away. We’ve got to regroup and get ready for tomorrow.”
The spectacular ending, capped a tense back-and-forth battle with a World Series record eight straight half-innings with a run scored.
Justin Turner and Corey Seager homered for the Dodgers. Seager’s was his eighth of the playoffs, temporarily tying the single post-season record until Arozarena notched his ninth in the fourth frame.
For the second game in a row Turner got things rolling with a solo homer in the first inning.
Seager added a solo shot in the top of the third that put the Dodgers up 2-0, but Arozarena pulled back a run in the bottom of the fourth with a lead-off blast to right centerfield off a 95 mph fastball from Julio Urias.
Los Angeles stretched the lead to 3-1 in the fifth when Seager singled off Rays relief pitcher Pete Fairbanks and reached second on a wild pitch. With two outs in the inning Max Muncy reached first on a sharp line drive to right field that scored Seager.
The Rays responded with a home run from Renfroe to cut the margin to one run in the bottom of the fifth.
The Dodgers pushed the lead back to two in the top of the sixth when Enrique Hernandez fired a double down the left field line that scored two.
But Lowe — the two-homer hero of the Rays’ game-two victory — put the Rays in front for the first time with a three-run blast off Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez in the bottom of the sixth.
In the seventh, Dodgers pinch-hitter Joc Pederson came up with the bases loaded and two out and delivered a two-run single that put Los Angeles back in front.
All seven Dodgers runs came with two outs — continuing a trend for them this series.
The Rays however, wouldn’t be denied, Kiermaier’s homer off Baez knotting the score at 6-6.
“We have no quit,” Kiermaier said. “We have been doing that all year. We’ve been the comeback kids. To do it on the big stage makes it that much sweeter.”