FFP needs to change and now impossible for football clubs outside ‘Big 6’ to win EPL

The football world is now waiting to see if City will meet the reported £150m asking price for England’s star striker Harry Kane, who is said to be desperate to quit Spurs and join the Premier League champions.

After Jadon Sancho’s £73m move to Manchester United, Arsenal’s £50m signing of Ben White, Spurs’ £47m deal for Cristian Romero and Chelsea’s potential purchase of Romelu Lukaku for close to £100m, the spending power of the so-called Big Six clubs appears to be bigger than ever despite the pandemic.

So what do these ever-increasing transfer fees mean for the future of English football and its fans? And can City afford to buy Kane and still meet UEFA’s financial fair play (FFP) rules?

Can City afford to bring in Kane after signing Grealish?

I believe any deal for the Spurs striker would be “unlikely” if the transfer fee is £150m as Harry Kane’s issue is his age. Jack Grealish at 25, over six years, makes financial sense. Harry Kane at 28 – you’re not going to give a 28-year-old a six-year contract. You’re more likely to give him a four-year contract.

Kane signed a six-year contract a couple of years ago. There’s no need for Spurs to sell him cheaply. City could throw the kitchen sink at it and say: ‘Come on Harry, we’ll give you six years. Sign for us until you’re 34.’ Would you take that risk for £150m? He’s brilliant, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think I’d have the bottle to sign off on that deal.

Financial fair play ‘has lost its credibility’

Last year City received a two-year ban from the Champions League for alleged “serious” breaches of club licensing and financial fair play regulations, before it was later overturned by UEFA. Originally when it was launched, UEFA said it was to reduce the amount of borrowings that football clubs have, But Manchester City don’t have any borrowings because they’re funded by their owners. Whereas Manchester United owe half a billion pounds to banks. The spirit of FFP was to try to create a more level playing field. Financial fair play needs a complete rethink if it’s going to be taken seriously. I think at present it’s lost its credibility.” I also believe it was “distasteful” that Arsenal spent £50m on signing White from Brighton after the north London club announced 55 staff redundancies last August.

“I think it perhaps polarises the issue we’ve got with football being totally disconnected from what those clubs were originally set up to do – which was be community-based organisations,” he added.

Will the increasing transfer fees hit fans’ pockets?

The soaring transfer fees are unlikely to result in higher ticket prices for match-going fans,

This is because the money made from tickets only accounts for a small proportion of Premier League clubs’ revenues. For some of these really big clubs, it might make up somewhere between 5-10% of their overall revenue profile. Even if you’ve got big transfer fees, match day tickets don’t generate enough revenue to cover those costs. It’s much easier for a club to find a commercial sponsor to plug that gap. There’s no appetite on behalf of clubs to raise ticket prices… they realise that fans are important stakeholders in the clubs so they don’t want to upset them.

Is t becoming harder for teams outside the ‘Big Six’ to win the Premier League?

There’s a reason Leicester were 5,000-1 to win that title, and that’s because it’s almost unheard of. It was a miraculous achievement by them. When you look at the data and look at the numbers, it should  be theoretically impossible for anyone to win the league outside of Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. In terms of financial size, those six clubs are pulling further away from everyone else. I think increasingly we’ll start talking about the Big Four, rather than the Big Six, because if Spurs and Arsenal can’t really break in, they’ll just get further and further behind as well.

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