FIFA President Sepp Blatter has hit out at debt ridden Premier League clubs, accusing chairmen of stockpiling players and spending money they don’t have. The FIFA supremo warned of financial over-commitment in England, although the scandal-hit FIFA President struggles to talk with credibility on the matter.
Blatter, never reticent in being critical of the English game, told CNN International that rich benefactors such as Roman Abramovich at Chelsea and Sheikh Mansour at Manchester City are the reason not all English clubs are in debt.
“I think something is wrong here with the Premier League, to let a club go into administration, this is not good.” said the 74-year-old FIFA president.
“They have two clubs in the Premier League who are not in debt. Why? Because they have two sponsors and they have taken away the debt. These clubs are Chelsea and Manchester City.
“All the others, even the big Manchester [United], the big Manchester I think they are just able to pay the interest of their debt but there are clubs that are not even able to pay the interest of their debt. This is not correct, this is not good.
“And these clubs, why are they in debt? Because they pay too high salaries to their players, they spend more money than they have.”
It’s a fair point, although Blatter has little credibility on the matter as President of an organisation that lost $100 million after the collapse of marketing partner ISL prior to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea.
The FIFA president allegedly tried to cover-up the scandal by dismissing former protegé Michel Zen-Ruffinen prior to the tournament. Zen-Ruffinen had led a task-force looking into financial mismanagement within the organisation.
In 1998 Blatter attempted to bribe delegates during the FIFA Presidential election, according to Farra Ado, vice-president of the CAF and president of the Somalian football association, although the charge was not conclusively proven.
FIFA has also consistently failed to impose financial regulation on clubs, while stockpiling huge profits from its competitions such as the World Cup, Club World Cup and Gold Cup. Yet Blatter claims this is not an area in which the organisation can help.
“This is not a question where FIFA can intervene because it is economy, it is the responsibility of the national association members in FIFA to make sure their clubs are in good order,” added the FIFA chief.
“In France it is a governmental decree that they have there. In Germany 51% ownership of the club must be German, in Spain most of the clubs belong to the fans.”
“I think salary caps will not be accepted by any economic system especially not in the European Union but salary caps will automatically come in if you can agree to this principle that you cannot spend more money than your income. This would balance it definitely”
Where FIFA refuses to act UEFA has been less reticent. The organisation, spearheaded by Michel Platini, plans to bring in strict financial management rules for European Competitions, although these were recently pushed back by the powerful European Club Association.
The rules, which will see clubs who do not run a balanced financial ship barred from the Champions and Europa leagues, will come in by 2015.
Until then Blatter will continue to bark with very little bite.