English clubs move closer to financial controls

By Keith Weir, Reuters

Posted at Dec 19 2012 04:26 PM | Updated as of Dec 20 2012 12:26 AM

LONDON - English Premier League clubs are expected to vote in February on financial controls designed to prevent a new influx of television money from being blown on increased player wages.

Leaders of the 20 clubs who met in London on Tuesday have asked the Premier League to work on two proposals to ensure that the world's richest league remains financially stable, sources familiar with the talks said.

The first would be modelled on UEFA's Financial Fair Play (FFP) system and would require clubs to move towards breakeven, while the second would place an annual limit on the how much salaries could increase.

The support of 14 clubs would be needed for any proposal to be adopted.

The Premier League is set for a big increase in television revenues from next season when BSkyB and BT will pay a billion pounds ($1.6 billion) per season for domestic TV rights, in a new three-year deal worth 70 percent more than the current one.

Sales of overseas rights are expected to bring in up to two billion pounds over the next three years.

Wages account for around 70 percent of revenues at Premier League clubs, leaving very little profit for many of them.

Manchester City last week reported a net loss of almost 100 million pounds in 2011-12 despite winning the top-flight title for the first time in 44 years.

Clubs like City and Chelsea, who won the Champions League last May, have fabulously wealthy owners who have spent hundreds of millions of pounds on building successful teams.

UEFA's FFP rules mean clubs have to curb their losses or risk exclusion from top European club competitions from 2014-15.

Details of sanctions for breaking any new Premier League curbs have yet to be worked out but current thinking is they should focus on measures like transfer embargoes, rather than points deductions.