UEFA eases club finance rules for 1 year due to the pandemic

NYON, Switzerland (AP) — UEFA has eased its rules for monitoring spending by Europe’s top soccer clubs due to financial instability caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The European soccer industry is losing hundreds of millions of euros (dollars) in income from playing games without fans and disruption to broadcast contracts.

UEFA announced changes on Thursday effectively combining two accounting years for clubs into one that will be assessed next year in the Financial Fair Play program.

“The adverse impact of the pandemic is neutralized by averaging the combined deficit of 2020 and 2021 and by further allowing specific COVID-19 adjustments,” Europe’s soccer body said in a statement after an executive committee meeting.

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In other decisions prompted by the pandemic delaying the current season, UEFA advised member federations to close the player transfer window on Oct. 5. The deadline is typically around Aug. 31.

The new suggested date is one day before UEFA’s deadline for registering squads to play in the Champions League and Europa League. The group stages begin from Oct. 20-22, one month later than usual.

UEFA’s FFP program requires clubs who qualify for European competitions to approach breaking even on their spending on transfers and wages against commercial income. Club owners are allowed unlimited spending on stadium projects and youth training, but not to bail out debts.

In the most severe cases, rule-breaking clubs can be suspended from a future competition.

The FFP rules are being tested in Manchester City’s appeal against a two-year ban. A Court of Arbitration for Sport verdict is due next month.

UEFA said on Thursday it is committed to “retaining the spirit and intent of financial fair play for football’s long-term viability.”

Clubs also were given one month extra, to the end of July, to show they have no outstanding debts for wages, transfers and social taxes.

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