Messi’s promised Barca contract, on a napkin, up for auction

A napkin on which was written the first promise of a contract to secure 13-year-old Lionel Messi for FC Barcelona, is on display at Bonhams, New York, on Mar. 5, 2024. (AFP)
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Updated 06 March 2024
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Messi’s promised Barca contract, on a napkin, up for auction

  • The napkin has gone on show in New York to drum up interest, ahead of the start of bidding on March 18
  • A set of six shirts worn by the number 10 during Argentina’s victorious Qatar World Cup campaign in 2022 sold for $7.8 million at auction at Sotheby’s

NEW YORK: To the untrained eye, it might look like just another used napkin.
But the serviette, expected to fetch up to $635,000, was actually soccer legend Lionel Messi’s springboard to greatness at FC Barcelona, and records the promise of a contract made to him at the tender age of 13.
The napkin has gone on show in New York to drum up interest, ahead of the start of bidding on March 18, against a backdrop of soaring interest in soccer memorabilia.
Though officially estimated to go for between $380,000 and $635,000, Ian Ehling, the head of fine books and manuscripts at Bonhams New York, said “I do expect it to sell for much more.”
Last December, a set of six shirts worn by the number 10 during Argentina’s victorious Qatar World Cup campaign in 2022 sold for $7.8 million at auction at Sotheby’s, exceeding estimates.
The story of the napkin has already been told many times in profiles of “Leo” Messi, one of the greatest players in soccer history, who now plays for Inter Miami.
Born in 1987 into a working class family in Rosario, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) north of Buenos Aires, Messi was 13 when he was spotted by Barca.
But not everyone there was convinced, and the deal dragged on and on, making Messi’s father impatient.
That was until a fateful meeting on December 14, 2000, at a Barcelona tennis club, between the club’s sporting director Carles Rexach and agents Josep Minguella and Horacio Gaggioli.
To confirm the club’s interest, Rexach reached for the napkin and wrote on it in blue ink that he agreed “under his responsibility and regardless of any dissenting opinions, to sign the player Lionel Messi, provided that we keep to the amounts agreed upon.”
A formal contract would later be drawn up, but Argentine agent Gaggioli kept the placeholder agreement for almost 25 years, until deciding to sell.
Messi won the Spanish league 10 times with Barca, playing there until 2021, becoming its all-time top scorer with 474 goals.
“The inception of Messi’s career is documented here. It’s just incredible,” said Ehling.
After New York, it will be exhibited in Paris and London until the auction which will run until March 27.


Germany braced for Euro 2024 kick-off with France, England the favorites

Updated 13 June 2024
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Germany braced for Euro 2024 kick-off with France, England the favorites

  • Germans are hoping for a repeat of 2006
  • England have never been European champions

MUNICH: Euro 2024 kicks off on Friday in Germany as the continent’s footballing heavyweights prepare to fight it out over the next month with the aim of taking the crown away from reigning champions Italy.
Germany play Scotland in the opening game in Munich and the host nation are hoping their journey will continue all the way to the final in Berlin on July 14.
It is the first time the country has hosted a major men’s international tournament since the 2006 World Cup, and it is a mouth-watering setting after the underwhelming nature of the last European Championship.
Euro 2020 was delayed by a year because of the pandemic, finally taking place in 2021 in front of limited crowds.
It was also staged in cities all across the continent, from Seville to Baku, and those factors stripped away much of what makes these tournaments so special.
This time all supporters will descend on Germany, where matches will be played in 10 stadiums, from Hamburg in the north to Munich in the south.
Germans are hoping for a repeat of 2006, when many fell in love with their national team again after a period in the doldrums similar to what they have experienced in the years leading up to this competition.
Philipp Lahm, the captain of Germany’s 2014 World Cup-winning team and now Euro 2024 tournament director, also hopes the competition will bring people together at a time of division and disunity across the continent.
The tournament begins less than a week after far-right parties made significant gains in EU parliament elections, while Europe is still dealing with the crisis of the war in Ukraine.
“I hope at the very least the Euro will lead to a more united Germany again,” said Lahm.
A good performance by Germany on the field would help, and the outlook is more positive for Julian Nagelsmann’s team now than a few months ago.
A group also containing Hungary and Switzerland should be straightforward enough given the quality in Germany’s ranks, from veteran playmaker Toni Kroos to younger stars Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala.
“We have gone through difficult phases as a national team, but something big can happen here,” Musiala, of Bayern Munich, told Sportbild.
However, there are good reasons why France and England are so strongly fancied to raise aloft the Henri Delaunay trophy on July 14.
France are Europe’s top-ranked nation and have been in the last two World Cup finals. Fresh from sealing his move to Real Madrid, Kylian Mbappe is eager to make up for a disappointing showing at the last Euros, when his penalty miss sealed a shoot-out defeat to Switzerland in the last 16.
“Kylian is our captain and a great leader. We will need him to be at his best,” admitted France coach Didier Deschamps.
England have never been European champions, although they came mightily close in 2021 when they lost the final on penalties to Italy.
Optimism about their prospects this time is fueled by the fact that star players Harry Kane, of Bayern, and Jude Bellingham, formerly of Borussia Dortmund, should feel so at home on German soil.
“We want to make history,” said England midfielder Declan Rice this week.
“We say it all the time, but genuinely we have a group, a manager, that really believes. We have a confidence that we can go there and do something really special.”
England begin their tournament against Serbia on Sunday in Gelsenkirchen, home of fallen German giants Schalke 04.
The French and English will be on course to meet in the semifinals if they both top their groups.
The prospect of Italy — who are in the same group as Spain — successfully defending their title seems slightly remote, but it would be foolish to rule them out.
“This Italy team is underrated and very competitive,” insisted legendary former Azzurri goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Portugal, champions in 2016, are genuine contenders even if they are still led by Cristiano Ronaldo, now aged 39 and playing club football in Saudi Arabia.
This Euros is the third since the competition was expanded to feature 24 teams, a move that has afforded a chance to some smaller nations, including Georgia, debutants this time.
However, injuries at the end of a long season are taking their toll on some leading players.
Frenkie de Jong, the Barcelona and Netherlands playmaker, has been ruled out with an ankle injury, while his club colleague Robert Lewandowski will not play in Poland’s opening match due to a thigh problem.


Pulisic, Turner rescue US in 1-1 draw with Brazil

Updated 13 June 2024
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Pulisic, Turner rescue US in 1-1 draw with Brazil

  • US skipper Christian Pulisic’s rasping first half free-kick ensured a share of the spoils for Gregg Berhalter’s side
  • US goalkeeper Matt Turner was the hero for the hosts, pulling off a string of fine saves to keep Brazil at bay

ORLANDO, Florida: The US bounced back from their 5-1 defeat to Colombia to earn a morale-boosting 1-1 draw with Brazil in their final warmup game before the Copa America on Wednesday.

US skipper Christian Pulisic’s rasping first half free kick ensured a share of the spoils for Gregg Berhalter’s side after Brazil had taken the lead through Real Madrid striker Rodrygo at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium.

Berhalter, who faced calls to resign after watching his team get dismantled by Colombia on Saturday, had challenged his players to deliver an improved performance against the five-time World Cup winners.

Berhalter’s men responded with a dogged display that made them well worth their first-ever draw against Brazil after 18 defeats in 19 previous meetings.

US goalkeeper Matt Turner was the hero for the hosts, pulling off a string of fine saves to keep Brazil at bay.

At the other end, Brazil keeper Alisson twice denied what might have been winning goals for the US late in the game, saving from Pulisic and Brenden Aaronson in quick succession.

Earlier, an entertaining first half saw the US start brightly with two promising early chances that signalled a willingness to attack.

Yunus Musah was the first to threaten Brazil’s goal in the fifth minute, unleashing a ferocious shot from just outside the area which cannoned off the underside of the crossbar and almost ricocheted off Alisson and into the net.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson was pressed into action moments later, saving smartly from Pulisic after the US captain surged forward from midfield and shot from long range.

But after those early scares Brazil settled down and the movement of Real Madrid duo Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo combined with Raphinha on the right flank was a constant menace to the US back four.

Rodrygo almost fired Brazil into the lead in the seventh minute but saw his shot from just inside the area saved by Turner after patient approach play by the South Americans.

Vinicius then shot over after Raphinha bamboozled Antonee Robinson wide on the right flank. Vinicius was soon tormenting the US again in the 17th minute, cleverly turning Joe Scally to go clear and bear down on goal.

Once again though Turner was equal to the challenge, narrowing the angle and blocking to frustrate Brazil again.

Yet Brazil did not have long to wait for the breakthrough. A poor goalkick by Turner handed possession to Brazil deep inside US territory and Raphinha picked out Rodrygo who took one touch to control before drilling a low finish into the bottom corner.

At that stage Brazil looked poised to overrun the US, and American fans were given more nervous moments when Raphinha curled a shot over the bar before Rodrygo went in on goal only to be denied by Turner again.

Yet the US refused to wilt and on 24 minutes Pulisic accelerated into space on the edge of the Brazil area before being fouled by Joao Gomes to win a free kick in a dangerous position.

Pulisic duly took full advantage from the set piece, driving a venomous low strike into the bottom corner to make it 1-1.

An end-to-end second half saw Brazil continue to threaten, yet it was the US who came closest to breaking the deadlock.

A counter-attack culminated with Weston McKennie picking out Pulisic in space inside the area, only for the US captain to aim his shot too close to Alisson, who reflexively dived to his left to stop a certain goal.


Besides Messi, there is Vinicius Júnior, Valverde, Garnacho and Pulisic to watch at Copa America

Updated 12 June 2024
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Besides Messi, there is Vinicius Júnior, Valverde, Garnacho and Pulisic to watch at Copa America

  • Vinicius Júnior will have his first chance to be Brazil’s main focus during a major tournament
  • Federico Valverde is the past, present and future of his national team Uruguay

SAO PAULO: Lionel Messi is undoubtedly the face of this year’s Copa America.
But there are other players to watch when the South American soccer championship starts this month in the United States with 16 teams from the Western Hemisphere competing.
VINICIUS JUNIOR, BRAZIL
With Neymar out injured, Vinicius Júnior will have his first chance to be Brazil’s main focus during a major tournament. The Real Madrid player has become a better striker, rather than just a great dribbler, in 2024, which has made him a serious candidate for this year’s Ballon d’Or award. He scored 15 goals in the Spanish league this season, five more than in the previous campaign. The 23-year-old Vinicius also scored key goals in his team’s Champions League title campaign, including one in the final, and combines to help Rodrygo excel up front. Vinicius will also have another opportunity to spread his anti-racism message, which has given him more fans back home.
FEDERICO VALVERDE, URUGUAY
Federico Valverde is the past, present and future of both his national team and Real Madrid. The 25-year-old midfielder has established himself as a pacemaker for the Spanish giants, a role that Uruguay coach Marcelo Bielsa seems eager to give him with the national team. This season, Valverde has scored only three goals and contributed eight assists for his club, but he continues to be one of the best passers in the game.
ALEJANDRO GARNACHO, ARGENTINA
Madrid-born left winger Alejandro Garnacho was one of the few positives for Manchester United this season — something that has given hope to Argentina as well. The 19-year-old Garnacho scored one of his team’s goals in the 2-1 win over Manchester City in the FA Cup final. The teenager scored 10 goals in 50 matches for his club this season. Garnacho can also play on the right flank, which boosts his chances of appearing in Argentina’s team.
KENDRY PÁEZ, ECUADOR
Kendry Páez has played at home for Independiente del Valle for two years, with long shots and dribbles that turned into great goals. The 17-year-old striker, who will join Chelsea next year, scored five goals in 29 matches in his first professional season and became the youngest to score in the Ecuadorian league. Last year, Páez had an assist in his Ecuador debut, a 2-1 win over Uruguay, in the second round of South American World Cup qualifying. This year, he became a starter and a key player of Independiente del Valle.
CHRISTIAN PULISIC, UNITED STATES
Christian Pulisic just had one of his best seasons in Europe, scoring 12 goals with nine assists in Italy for AC Milan. The 25-year-old striker’s career now looks less promising than it did several years ago when he played for Borussia Dortmund as a young right winger, but he can still score goals, give smart passes and read the game. Pulisic also proved this season he could play on the left and even in the midfield as a sort of playmaker.
SANTI GIMENEZ, MEXICO
Santi Gimenez had a prolific season at Dutch club Feyenoord, making some Mexican watchers believe the team has a shot at winning the Copa America. The 23-year-old Argentina-born striker scored 23 goals and had six assists to help his team finish second in the Dutch league. His coach, Arne Slot, just joined Liverpool and could well take the target man to Anfield. Giménez has skill, power, speed and calm in front of opposing goalkeepers. Dutch players have compared him to a young Robin van Persie.


Barcelona can’t register nine of their 25 first-team players — here’s the state of play

Last August saw a number of players moved out against their wishes during the final days of the window. AFP
Updated 12 June 2024
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Barcelona can’t register nine of their 25 first-team players — here’s the state of play

  • The Athletic reported last month that Barcelona must find about 130 million before June 30 or it will be very difficult to add new players to their squad due to how they overshot La Liga's salary limit during 2023-24
  • The club has been looking to find new investors for their troubled Barca Studios lever and to renegotiate and/or extend their deal with kit supplier Nike

Recent summers have brought plenty of drama at Barcelona as president Joan Laporta and his directors have looked to build competitive squads despite serious and ongoing financial problems.
That has often meant wheeling and dealing right down to the final day of the transfer window. Barcelona's board has found increasingly inventive ways to work within La Liga's salary limit regulations, including the famous levers of summer 2022 and 2023.
Last August saw a number of players moved out against their wishes during the final days of the window before Joao Felix and Joao Cancelo arrived on loan just before the deadline. Board members gave personal guarantees worth 18.5million to La Liga.
This year is sure to bring more such maneuvering. The Athletic reported last month that Barcelona must find about 130 million before June 30 or it will be very difficult to add new players to their squad due to how they overshot La Liga's salary limit during 2023-24.
This week, Barcelona sources, who, like all of those spoken to for this article asked to be kept anonymous to protect relationships, told The Athletic there was confidence that a solution to their need for 130m would be found by the end of the month. The club has been looking to find new investors for their troubled Barca Studios lever and to renegotiate and/or extend their deal with kit supplier Nike.
But no concrete details have yet been shared with La Liga and cashing in on squad assets such as Ronald Araujo, Frenkie de Jong or Raphinha cannot be ruled out. Especially as Laporta said this week: "We'd like to strengthen in holding midfield and add an out-and-out winger."
Meanwhile, as things stand, nine of the 25 players who started games for Barcelona in La Liga during 2023-24 currently cannot be registered for next season.
Sergi Roberto and Marcos Alonso are out of contract on June 30, when the loan deals for Felix and Cancelo also expire. That date also sees Inigo Martinez and Vitor Roque become unregistered with La Liga due to the unorthodox ways both were levered onto the squad list for last season.
Senior deals for La Masia products Alejandro Balde, Lamine Yamal, Pau Cubarsi, and Hector Fort all still have to be formally accepted by La Liga. A legal battle with the league over the status of another homegrown youngster Gavi is also yet to be concluded.
Making it even more difficult to find space within the salary budget to add new names is that players returning from loans are all automatically registered for 2024-25. This means the hefty salaries of Ansu Fati, Eric Garcia, Sergino Dest, and Clement Lenglet are all currently being counted by La Liga for next season even if none of those players figure in the club's long-term plans.
Laporta and Barcelona sporting director Deco now have a series of difficult cases to resolve. It will clearly be quite a while before new head coach Hansi Flick's squad for next season is finalized. A source close to a player whose future is uncertain said: "It's going to be a very long summer."
Barcelona's current club captain renewed on a lower salary last summer. He then played 24 games during an injury-hampered campaign, scoring three goals and providing three assists.
Another 12-month extension was expected had his former team-mate Xavi continued as head coach, however nothing has been signed. Laporta is said to value the Catalan-born La Masia graduates representation of the club's values. Whether that contribution is considered valuable enough to offer him a new contract remains to be seen.
Marcos Alonso was always a strange signing and played just 389 minutes in all competitions last season.
A back issue has not helped, but even when fit the former Chelsea defender was well down the pecking order. The 33-year-old has surely played his last game for Barcelona.
Vitor Roque was meant to join Barcelona from Athletico Paranaense this coming summer for an initial 30 million plus a potential further 31 million in add-ons.
The Brazilian starlet was initially registered with La Liga in January as an emergency short-term signing to cover Gavis's injury. So the salary he was paid while mostly sitting on the bench for the last six months must now be subtracted from Barcelonas total available for the coming season.
Had Xavi continued as coach, a loan move for next season was being considered. His agent Andre Cury told Catalan radio in early May that we dont want a loan if he has to go, it will be a permanent sale. Laporta suggested this week the 19-year-old would be in Flick's squad next season.
Martinez signed a two-year deal when he joined Barcelona on a free transfer from Athletic Bilbao last summer. However, that contract was registered with La Liga for just one year to ensure he could be added to the official squad last August.
Xavi was a fan of the Basque's technical qualities and he played 25 games for Barcelona last season, despite some injury absences.
The 33-year-old is keen to continue at Barca. His future may not be decided until later in the window and depends on what happens with other players, particularly Araujo and Garcia.
We want the Joaos to continue and were working on them continuing another season, Laporta said this week. Flick considers them top-quality players and is counting on both.
This is despite both having had underwhelming 2023-24 campaigns. Cancelo made big mistakes in crucial moments and Xavi often left Joao Felix on the bench for big games.
Both are unwanted at their parent clubs, due to difficult relationships with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone.
The close relationship between Laporta and Jorge Mendes, who represents both players, looks just as important for their futures. Mendes also represents various other squad members — including Fati, Yamal, and Balde.
A quirk of Felix's arrival late last August was that Barcelona originally wanted to register him on a very low salary, but Tebas later confirmed that La Liga gave him a market value of 10 million under regulations designed to stop clubs from bending rules or underpaying players.
Center-back Garcia thrived on loan at Girona last season, being a key part of the Catalan side's surprise Champions League qualification.
That loan deal did not contain an option for a permanent transfer and Garcia has two more years on the contract agreed when he returned from Manchester City in July 2021.
"This summer I'll go back to Barcelona and we'll see what the club's plan is for me," he told The Athletic in March.
The 23-year-old also spoke in that interview about confusion at Barcelona in the final days of last summer's transfer window. Xavi said he was counting on him for the season, but the club hierarchy wanted to loan him out to make room in the salary limit to sign other players instead.
Fati was another who did not initially want to leave Barcelona on loan last summer. His experiences on loan were less fruitful than Garcia's.
The 21-year-old scored four goals in 30 games for Brighton but never really convinced Roberto De Zerbi that he was prepared for the demands of the Premier League. The Premier League clubs social media goodbye made clear they did not expect to be seeing him again any time soon.
A post shared by Brighton Hove Albion FC (@officialbhafc)
"It was a pleasure to play for Brighton, but now I'm back with my club and my family," Fati told Mundo Deportivo this week. "My dream remains to play for Barca."
Fati remains popular with many Barcelona fans and it is not long since he was seen as Lionel Messi's long-term successor in the number 10 jersey. However, the club's directors now realize the 10 million-plus annual salary agreed before injuries seriously affected his development is now a big problem.
US international right-back Sergino Dest spent last year on loan at PSV Eindhoven, having never really settled at Barcelona since joining for 21 million from Ajax in the summer of 2020.
Dest had an excellent season at PSV, contributing two goals and seven assists in 37 games before suffering a serious knee injury in April. This will see the 23-year-old miss the USMNT's Copa America campaign this summer.
The Dutch club has an option for a permanent transfer this summer and may now be able to drive a hard bargain. Barcelona will not want an injured player taking up space on their wage bill, especially one whose contract with them ends in June 2025.
Lenglet has not played for Barcelona since May 2022 after spending the last two seasons on loan at Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa.
The former France international, who turns 29 on June 17, still has two more years on the bumper contract agreed when he joined Barcelona from Sevilla in 2018, during Josep Maria Bartomeus's free-spending years as president.
That 16 million salary (inc tax) complicates matters. Barcelona was paying a significant chunk even while he was at Tottenham and Villa. A move to Saudi Arabia would resolve the problem for Barcelona, but the player himself appears keen to continue his career in Europe.
Gavis's long-term contract situation remains in a type of legal limbo.
Having emerged into Barca's first team aged 17, still on his youth team deal and wearing No 30, Gavi signed a first senior contract in September 2022 with a 1 billion release clause.
When La Liga said there was no room for that contract within that season's squad salary limit, Barcelona took a case to the Spanish courts and achieved a temporary injunction to ensure the player was not free to sign for another club last summer.
While waiting for Barcelonas Juzgado Mercantil (Commercial Court) No 10 to resolve the case, Gavi was registered with La Liga for 2023-24. He wore No. 6 for the first months of the season, until suffering a serious knee injury on Spain duty in November, and is still mid-way through a long recovery process.
Until the Barcelona court offers a final judgment on the legal case, doubts will remain over his long-term future.
Home-produced left-back Alejandro Balde signed a senior contract with Barcelona in September 2023 that tied him to the club until June 2028 with a 1 billion release clause.
However, Barcelona did not have space to formally register that contract with La Liga and still do not.
The 20-year-old's ability and potential mean he would be among the priority players to register first — assuming they make space this summer.
Teenagers Lamine Yamal, Pau Cubarsi, and Hector Fort played big roles for the first team through the second half of 2023-24 and have all agreed to new contracts befitting their status as emerging stars of interest to richer clubs across Europe.
Yamal signed his first professional contract in October 2023, which lasts until 2026 and also includes the 1 billion release clause. Barcelona sources have told The Athletic that a longer extension is already agreed for when he turns 18 in July 2025.
Cubarsi recently agreed on a new deal that ties him to the club until June 2027. That was seen as vital as his academy contract includes a 10 million release clause and the player named in Spain's provisional Euro 2024 squad has a current market value already many multiples of that figure.

Recent weeks also saw full-back Fort, still 17, renew his contract, although only up until June 2026.
Given all the pressures on the salary limit and the uncertainty of the Gavi legal case, Barcelona is relying on these home-produced kids showing loyalty and ignoring potentially huge offers from elsewhere.
Formally registering them all as senior as senior players with La Liga would bring the protection of their huge release clauses and sighs of relief throughout the Barcelona family.


Aston Villa owner Nassef Sawiris considering legal action over Premier League spending rules

Nassef Sawiris (R) with co-owner Wesley Edens. credit: x platform
Updated 12 June 2024
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Aston Villa owner Nassef Sawiris considering legal action over Premier League spending rules

  • Villa had a proposal to raise the maximum permitted losses from 105 million to 135 million rejected at the Premier Leagues' annual general meeting last week
  • Premier League clubs have, however, agreed to trial a new financial system next season, including a cap on spending to replace PSR from the 2025-26 season

Aston Villa owner Nassef Sawiris says he is considering taking legal action against the Premier League's profit and sustainability rules (PSR).
In an interview with the Financial Times, Sawiris — Egypt's richest man — said the regulations, which place a limit on the amount clubs are able to lose across a three-year period, do not make sense and are not good for football.
Villa had a proposal to raise the maximum permitted losses from 105 million to 135 million rejected at the Premier Leagues' annual general meeting last week.
Sawiris, who called PSR anti-competitive, said he was seeking advice over the prospect of taking legal action against them.
Some of the rules have actually resulted in cementing the status quo more than creating upward mobility and fluidity in the sport, he told the Financial Times in an interview. The rules do not make sense and are not good for football.
He added: "Managing a sports team has become more like being a treasurer or a bean counter rather than looking at what your team needs."
It's more about creating paper profits, not real profits. It becomes a financial game, not a sporting game.
Premier League clubs have, however, agreed to trial a new financial system next season, including a cap on spending to replace PSR from the 2025-26 season.
The Premier League said in a statement: "Clubs agreed to trial an alternative league-wide financial system next season on a non-binding basis. The existing PSR will remain in place, but clubs will trial squad cost rules (SCR) and top-to-bottom anchoring rules (TBA) in shadow."

This will enable the league and clubs to fully evaluate the system, including the operation of Uefas equivalent new financial regulations, and to complete its consultation with all relevant stakeholders.
Everton and Nottingham Forest were given points deductions last season for breaching the 105m limit. In March, Villa reported a loss of 119.6m ($152m) after tax in the year ending May 31, 2023.
The Athletic reported last week that champions Manchester City had begun a separate legal case against the Premier League associated party transaction (APT) rules.
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For the past 18 months, there has been the inescapable feeling internally that Aston Villa would need to move on a first-team player for substantial profit if they intend to continue spending in line with performance on the pitch and to stay on the right side of PSR.
In the recent set of financial accounts, Villa reported a loss of 119.6m ($152m) after tax in the year, compared to the marginal profit of 300,000 from 12 months prior.
It is a delicate financial act, with Villa juggling on-pitch aspirations and financial compliance off it. Strategy centers on managing concerns around PSR with NSWE, Villas ownership group, appointing Bjorn Schuurmans as a secretary. Schuurmans has worked in tax and structuring at other companies and will be relied upon in managing this summer's finances.
Villas' wages-to-turnover ratio — the percentage of money spent on employees' salaries — stood at 89 percent in 2022 and 2023, the fourth highest in the Premier League.
Concerningly, the three clubs above them were Leicester City, Nottingham Forest, and Everton, all of whom have breached PSR rules and are in varying processes of being sanctioned.
Villa feels PSR sanctions are restrictive and impede upwardly mobile clubs from regularly competing among the elite and why they proposed the idea to increase PSR losses, only for one other Premier League club to vote in favor.