European football's governing body, UEFA, have confirmed that financial fair play (FFP) regulations will be reviewed but rebuked claims it would allow for open season among the biggest clubs.
Last week, Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport reported that the rules around FFP, which have been in operation in European football for a decade, were to change with UEFA instead moving to replace the system with new financial controls.
It had been suggested that reforms would allow for more freedom for bigger clubs in the transfer market and that the redesigned system is to be a "transition from the idea of 'spending as much as you collect' to 'spending what is necessary without waste."
A number of potential shifts in FFP were mooted, including the possibility of bringing in salary caps and a luxury tax for those who breach them, as well as economic sanctions instead of competitive ones.
From a Liverpool perspective, this opens the possibility of some of their rivals, able to call on the wealth of oil-rich Arab states and oligarchs, being afforded greater freedom to flex their financial muscle.
What would have been a more welcome sight for Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group was the potential for a salary cap, with such a mechanism allowing for greater certainty over cost and ensuring that some kind of ceiling was kept on wages, something which has been rising at a faster rate that revenue in recent years at Anfield.
UEFA's executive committee meet on Wednesday (March 31) to discuss the radical 'Swiss Model' reforms to the Champions League from 2024, where the amount of teams will rise from 32 to 36 with a league format and 10 games being introduced instead of the usual six group games and bigger clubs given greater security over their place at the top table through UEFA coefficients and historical performance in European competition.
That points to UEFA being ready to engage in an overhaul of its governance and its competitions that could well see FFP altered in the not too distant future, although the notion of the abandonment of the regulations altogether has been rebuked.
Speaking on Thursday at a meeting between UEFA and European Union officials, Andrea Traverso, director of research and financial stability at UEFA, said: "Covid 19 has generated a revenue crisis and had a big impact on the liquidity of clubs,” he said. “This is a crisis which is very different from anything we have had to tackle before. In such a situation obviously clubs are struggling; they have difficulties in complying with their obligations.
"I think, in general, rules must always evolve. They have to adapt to the context in which clubs operate. The break-even rule, the way it works now it looks backwards: it performs an assessment of a situation in the past. The pandemic represents such an abrupt change that looking to the past is becoming purposeless.
“So maybe the rules should have a stronger focus on the present and the future and should definitely have stronger focus on the challenges of high levels of wages and the transfer market. The solution of this is not easy.
"Those that are saying that the rules will be abandoned or relaxed are just speculating. Rules can be different, sure, but this does not necessarily mean that the rules will be less stringent. On the contrary, when severe situations occur often those necessitate stronger measures."
The rules around FFP were agreed back in 2009 as UEFA sought ways to try and address the financial issues that were becoming increasingly prevalent across the continent.
FFP's aim was to try and ensure that clubs could not simply spend their way to success with no restrictions placed upon them and to prevent clubs from falling into financial peril and aiming to try and preserve the essence of competition in domestic and European competition.
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Currently clubs that fall foul of FFP can, in theory, be expelled from competing in European competitions, a sanction that was handed down to Manchester City until they successfully appealed the ruling at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
But UEFA's defeat by CAS was seen as an embarrassment for European football's governing body at the time, an inability to enforce their own rules, and FFP has been seen by some as not fit for purpose in their current guise.
UEFA have already begun designing the new regulations and once they have discussed them with the European Parliament they will take them to the clubs for consideration before a final decision on the implementation schedule is taken.