Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has made a full U-turn on UEFA’s financial fair play rules, saying they must be scrapped entirely to allow investors to pour unlimited amounts of money into the game.
Wenger was among the staunchest backers of FFP regulations when they were introduced by UEFA but has changed his mind after seeing transfer fees spiral uncontrollable this summer inspite of the efforts to curb club spending.
Arsenal usually maintained a strategy of living within their own means but have seen their financial power fall behind those clubs where wealthy owners pump their own money into transfer funds.
And Wenger now thinks that if FFP cannot be effectively put in place, UEFA should just “open the door completely” to outside investments.
“That is a question we have to raise, because at the moment it looks like we have created rules that cannot be respected,” he said. “There’s nothing worse than creating rules that are not respected.
“Maybe we are at a crossroads and have to think, do we open it completely with freedom of investment for people like the Chinese or Americans who want to invest here? Why not? If you want to remain the best league in the world, that is certainly the way we have to go.”
UEFA announced a week ago it had opened an FFP investigation into Paris Saint-Germain “in light of its recent transfer activity,” following the Qatar-backed French club bought Neymar from Barcelona for a world-record €222 million after which added Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe in a deal set to be worth €180m next summer.
Then again, UEFA threw out a complaint against Manchester City, who spent a lot more than £200m on new players this summer, and Wenger said there are a lot of ways for clubs to skirt around the rules.
“Financial fair play raises new questions. I was always deeply for it. Today I am not very convinced that we can maintain it,” he said. “There are too many legal ways to get around financial fair play.
“At least the question has to be raised. At the moment it looks like you can buy clubs in China and get the players there, or buy them in other clubs and get them after here [to Europe], where you can get around [the rules].”
Arsenal broke their club transfer record this summer by signing striker Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon in a deal well worth up to £52m, but failed in a deadline-day attempt to buy Thomas Lemar from Monaco for £92m.
The club’s majority shareholder, Stan Kroenke, has angered fans by not putting his own money in to the club and keeping minority owner Alisher Usmanov at arms’ length regardless of the Russian billionaire’s obvious readiness to help Arsenal financially.