Whether FFP actually stands for Financial Fair Play is debatable. Be free to make up your own terms for this acronym. Financial fuckery personified is probably here to stay.

Perhaps it is already known that the ‘Profitability and Sustainability’ rules started operating in the Championship from 2016/17 season; where clubs would be assessed over three seasons (rather than just a single season). But what does it really mean?

These were the key changes:

  • The assessment is carried out in March (rather than December, as it was previously).
  • The maximum loss limit is now £13m per Championship season, or £5m a season if the owner does not inject equity into the club, to cover losses.
  • Losses are now assessed over three seasons, rather than just over a single (previous season).
    The appraisal of each club’s finances is a combination of a significant assessment of a clubs fiscal performance, over the last two seasons and includes a financial projection for the season ahead.
  • All of this information has to be with the Football League by the 1 March.
The Football League aim to adjudicate and punish before the end of the any season.

That said, there must be many clubs that are flying close to the wind, despite the "clear" rules.

What happens if any football league club breaks their ceiling for losses?

Any punishment for a breach of the rules is apparently determined by an independent panel (the ‘Fair Play Panel’). But what are the potential punishments?

Previously the Football League has only been able to either fine promoted clubs (a fine the Premier League didn’t help them collect), or impose a transfer embargo for historic overspending. With this change, a wide range of punishments are now available.

Respected FFP writer Ed Thompson has stated that “nothing is off the table” and that points to deductions for the ongoing season as an option. Should this be a reality, the Football League are now able to impose a points deduction during the current season, or demote a club from an automatic promotion position into the play-offs (or out of the play-offs altogether).

Transfer embargoes are also available (with the earliest one potentially applying during the Summer 2017 transfer window). That said, I can't see any evidence of this particular pressure on clubs, who are clearly gambling, on their potential return or rise to the Premier League.

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Let's do the sums though

According to UEFA.com; If a club's owner injects money into the club through a sponsorship deal with a company to which he is related, then UEFA's competent bodies will investigate and, if necessary, adapt the calculations of the break-even result for the sponsorship revenues to the level which is appropriate ('fair value') according to market prices. Under the updated regulations, any entity that, alone or in aggregate together with other entities which are linked to the same owner or government, represent more than 30% of the club's total revenues is automatically considered a related party.

This sounds complicated, not least because "fair value" and "relationships" are very fluid subjects. For example, could Lacatoni or Elev8, companies who do not trade or sell a single product in the UK market, ever be considered as a bone fide partners or sponsors? If you're from S6, it doesn't matter. Not least, when you consider that Carlos Carvahal is a part shareholder in Lacatoni, the Manager of Sheffield Wednesday and potentially the beneficiary of an owner's income and influence.

Perhaps it is reasonable to suggest that settling your price and covering your potential costs might also accelerate your ability to invest in your playing talent? Hands up, this is not a fact, but surely ought to be a subject for further exploration. Transparency. Please!

Solidarity payments

A lot has been said about solidarity payments, the so called "parachute money" that clubs benefit from, when they fall from grace into the Championship. It is claimed that winning promotion within two years is crucial to Middlesbrough Football Club. There are many more clubs who haven’t done so and are now struggling.

Will the Football League act?

RĂºben Neves; FC Porto > Wolverhampton Wanderers: £15.22m
Britt Assombalonga; Nottingham Forrest > Middlesbrough: £14.45m
Jordan Rhodes; Middlesbrough > Sheffield Wednesday: £9.95m

These examples are the tip of the iceberg. Some clubs might claim an increase in marketing opportunities, gained through their paternal fuck-wit fiscal owners, Pucka Pies and shirt sales can never satiate the salaries and expenditure that these deals will inevitably serve on a profit and loss spreadsheet.

The Reds

Despite the alleged "inflexible purse strings" at Oakwell, I'm definitely in favour of our strategy. FFP might not be the answer for #TeamsLikeBarnsley. The playing field will not be levelled today. Prudent purchases and coaching ability really do hold the keys to our fortune ahead.

Whether FFP actually stands for Financial Fair Play is debatable. Be free to make up your own terms for this acronym. Financial fuckery personified is probably here to stay.

In a world that is ever more unpredictable and financially uncertain, there will always be those that are seeking a reasonable guarantee from their financial muscle and a fast return on the investment they make. New talent, new heroes and our new season are definitely off their radar at the moment.
Let's get behind the lads and make 2017/18 more than just a year of the underdog. Let's lift our club up and prove that when it's all spent, it remains and will always be a game of 11 versus 11.
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Ian Wilkinson

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