Financial Fair Play can stabilise football, say Town managing directors

Ipswich Town

Ipswich Town - Credit: Archant

FINANCIAL Fair Play rules can stabilise football’s spiralling expenditure, but the Premier League is certainly not helping the Championship’s cause.

That’s the opinion of Ipswich Town managing directors Ian Milne and Jonathan Symonds as they tackle the big off-field issues facing clubs at present.

Financial Fair Play means clubs will face punishments for not working towards a break even model over the coming months, with owners restricted to the amounts they can pump in.

“Right now we are caught between a rock and hard place,” said Symonds. “We’d rather not have to call upon Marcus (Evans) for the money and he’d rather not have to put it in, but the reality is that it’s required at this moment in time.

“However, there are steps being put in place – and rightly so – to make clubs work on a break even basis.

“The whole Fair Play thing is constantly on our minds and we see it as a way of stabilising football. We hope it does reduce the amount of debt within football to owners.”

Milne said: “We’ve got the fixtures and fittings at the ground, we own the training ground now but that is not of huge value at all because it can’t be used for much more than football purposes, so the club doesn’t have a huge amount of assets. Really the only value is in the brand.

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“On our first day, someone threw a pound coin at us and we weren’t sure whether it was an assault or a takeover bid!

“What is the value? You’ve got all these owners putting their money in. You can just give it, you’ve got to record it as a loan in order to get the most tax efficiency that you can. You have to set losses off against that – that’s standard business practice.

“It’s now up to us to reduce that level of debt by generating income and reducing all this money that Marcus is putting in.

“Listening to the other Championship clubs, they are all budgeting for Financial Fair Play. Some clubs – without naming any names – will be getting absolutely no money from their owners next season, they’ll just be working off their solidarity and parachute payments.

“I thought we were being particularly tough, but there are several other clubs all doing the same things as we are.”

One thing the duo aren’t happy with was the Premier League’s recent interference at a recent Football League meeting. With parachute payments to those being relegated to the Championship increasing again this summer (£59m over four season), Evans suggested that clubs benefiting from that money should be made to spend it wisely via a £16m wage cap.

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore threatened to withdraw solidarity payments (worth an annual £2.3m to Championship clubs) if the idea was implemented though. The plan to vote on the idea was therefore scrapped.

“If you get to the Premier League then you have to upscale the entire organisation and there needs to be a mechanism to compensate for that as you come out of it because the gulf is getting bigger and bigger, as everyone knows,” said Symonds.

“At the recent Football League meeting it really became apparent that those gifts of solidarity payments are something of a Trojan horse in that they are trying to control the Football League,” said Milne.

“And there is a wish among a number of owners in the Championship that we’ve got to stop relying on those gifts.”

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