The central body of European Football, UEFA, is facing a credibility crisis after letting Manchester City off the hook for breaching the Financial Fair Play rules set by the body. After the Premier League champions were punished for non-compliance with the rules four months ago, UEFA have now done a dramatic U-turn in their favour.
The regular Champions League squad consists of 25 members – 17 foreign players, 4 ‘association players’ and 4 ‘club-trained players’. Association players include those that have come through the youth system at a club part of the same footballing association, which in this case, is the FA, while club-trained players include players that have been part of the youth system at the same club.
As punishment for the breaching of the FFP rules, UEFA had pronounced that City’s Champions League squad would consist of 21 members rather than 25. It was assumed that this would automatically mean a reduction in the number of foreign players in the squad. The number of home-grown players in the squad would not be compromised upon, as UEFA is hell-bent on promoting self-sufficiency.
But, in a dramatic turnaround, City have been allowed to get away with fielding just 5 home-grown players in total, and only 1 club-trained player. As a result, 4 out of the 5 in Joe Hart, Gael Clichy, James Milner and Frank Lampard are association players. Only Dedryck Boyata has come through the ranks at the Etihad Stadium.
“UEFA have effectively rewritten their home grown player rule,” said Daniel Geey, a football law specialist at the firm Field Fisher Waterhouse, who has advised clients and written extensively on FFP. “There is nothing in Uefa or FFP regulations about the home-grown rule changing.”
“Five out of 21 was not a proportionate reduction,” Geey added, referring to the reduction that was allowed in the number of home-grown players. It was widely expected that big-name players like Aleksandr Kolarov and Stefan Jovetic, who haven’t featured regularly for Manuel Pellegrini’s side this season, would be left out of the Champions League squad. But this rule-change has facilitated the club to name a seemingly unfair 16 foreigners among the 21.
City kick their European campaign off against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena on 17th September.