MONTE CARLO Footballers' wages have continued to rise in Europe although clubs are losing less money than before, European soccer's governing body UEFA said on Friday.
Secretary general Gianni Infantino said that the figures were the latest sign that UEFA's financial fair play policy, intended to force clubs to rein in spending, is having an effect.
Infantino said that players' wages had gone up by an average of 6.5 percent in the latest financial year while clubs' revenue had increased by 6.9 percent.
"In this climate in Europe, a business which has increased by seven per cent in one year is impressive and wages have increased less than revenue," Infantino told a news conference.
He said that UEFA's latest report, to be published next month, will show that the total overdue payments among the 237 clubs in European competition has been cut from 57 million euros ($75.38 million) in 2011 to 9 million euros this year.
He said that clubs were also losing less money. In the last financial year, Europe's 725 first division clubs lost 1.066 billion euros between them, compared to 1.7 billion on the previous year.
"This represents a 36 percent decrease of the losses in one year," he said. "The clubs are getting the message."
Under the financial fair play rules, clubs must not spend more than they generate through revenue such as television rights, tickets and sponsorship.
The measures are intended to stop clubs spending their way to oblivion and also prevent cash injections from rich owners at some clubs from distorting the market.
Clubs who do not comply could be kicked out of European competition, starting from next season.
"This year is the first year that break-even result will be examined in detail, so the majority of clubs have really paid attention and are moving in the right direction," said Infantino.
"I think this reduction in only one year really shows concretely the effects of financial fair play."
"Financial fair play was established to create a healthy and sustainable environment for club football in the future, not to sanction or punish clubs," he said.
"The success of financial fair play will not be measured by how many clubs are excluded from UEFA competitions because any club excluded is a defeat for Europe in general. The success of financial fair play will be determined by concrete facts and figures."
UEFA president Michel Platini said he was not worried about the recent spending spree at promoted Ligue 1 club Monaco, who have splashed out for than 120 million euros since their return to the top flight.
"Monaco are not in European competition, we are interested in the clubs in the European competition," said Platini.
"Monaco would only become a problem if they qualify."
($1 = 0.7562 euros)
(Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Alan Baldwin)