New laws should be introduced to force English football clubs to clean up their finances unless they adopt European rules to curb spending, according to a group of British MPs. Edward Baran reports.
The likes of Rooney and Van Persie are handsomely rewarded for their skills on the pitch. But a report by a group of British MPs says new laws should be introduced to make English football clubs clean up their finances unless they adopt European rules to curb spending. One of the politicians behind the report is John Whittingdale. SOUNDBITE: JOHN WHITTINGDALE, British politician and report author, saying (English): 'There are lots of problems with the game - in some repects it's highly successful, we have the most successful Premier League in the world but there are still huge levels of debt, you still see clubs sinking into administration and we do think there needs to be a much better governance structure and I think that is very widely recognised." UEFA has already introduced Financial Fair Play measures for leading teams across the continent - now the pressure's on for the Premier League to do the same, or MPs say legislation will be required. Despite lucrative TV contracts, English clubs often struggle to turn cash into profit because they spend much of their income on star name wages, as Dr Sue Bridgewater from Warwick Business School explains. SOUNDBITE: DR SUE BRIDGEWATER, Warwick University Business School, saying (English): "Actually if you look at the financial reports there have been years in which some clubs are spending 110 per cent of their revenue on wages - so they're spending more than they earn in total just on player wages. Obviously that isn't sustainable unless you have a rich benefactor or, as is one of the points raised in the report, they are building up levels of debt within clubs which are really unsustainable.' But Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger appeared to criticise the ultimatum from politicians. SOUNDBITE: ARSENE WENGER, Arsenal manager, saying (English): 'That the government wants clear rules for football to be managed - I agree completely. But politics rule football, I am not for it. Football for me is like any company who is in entertainment.' UEFA's rules pose a challenge for English clubs back ed by wealthy benefactors such as Russian Roman Abramovich at Chelsea and Abu Dhabi's Sheik Mansour at Manchester City. Premier League clubs are due to discuss the issue at a meeting early next month.