Dupont: "I have zero doubts this violates EU law"
Jean-Louis Dupont, the Belgian lawyer responsible for the Bosman ruling which effectively changed the face of European football, has spoken of his certainty that Financial Fair Play rules "violate" European Union laws.
Dupont is representing a number of agents and supporters groups, and says that every day there are more people willing to join the action, particularly fans. He hopes to have a judgement by next summer at the latest.
Speaking on Talksport, Dupont was damning of the current rules. "I don't think any serious economist who has written about it [FFP] says it is financial fair play, they says it is financial unfair play. Why? As simple as this. Because when you say you can't spend more than you earn it looks good on the face of it. That's what I do at home. But when you're a company that's crazy. A company is about taking risks and saying 'OK, during ten years I am going to lose some money [meaning the investor]… so that I grow it, I make something different from it.'
"Financial Fair Play is a great name. It's the only thing that's good about it. Because, when you come down to the truth, it's a prohibition to invest. As simple as that. It's a prohibition to an investor to invest in his own company.
"So what's the result of it? The result is very simple – you have the 'haves', and the 'have-nots'. The people who are established will remain up there, and cannot be challenged. We are talking about a cartel. A system in which you cannot challenge UEFA because you have to live with it, so I do not expect anything from the big clubs.
“It would be so simple to do something different. Just an example, because UEFA is always using the argument ‘If we don’t do that, we have the next Portsmouth’. Not at all. You have a serious individual that comes and says ‘I’m going to overspend in my club because I want to grow the club’. OK, great. Do it. But put the money in by June 1st for the whole of next season, so there is no risk. The idea is instead of saying ‘you cannot overspend’, you say ‘you cannot overspend unless it is fully guaranteed in advance’.
“From an EU competition perspective it is very important because it means that you have less damaging measures that would be more efficient. Under EU law you cannot restrain freedom in order to attain supposed good financial balance if you have other measures that are available that would achieve your objectives better.
"For me, the key issue is that any serious professor of law or economist that has written on this subject is defending exactly the same position as my clients. I have absolutely no doubt this rule violates EU law, so we have to win. A court battle involves procedural issues, so you can always lose on a technicality, but on the merits I have zero doubt this rule violates EU law."
Dupont was also keen to stress who the real victims would be should the rules be upheld. "In England there is a wrong perception about it. People say this is hitting hard on Manchester City, this is hitting quite hard on Chelsea. In fact, in my view, if I was a fan of Aston Villa, or Newcastle, I would cry because no Sheikh Mansour is coming to grow the club. Forget about it. It's over. They're the real losers."