AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said on Tuesday the Financial Fair Play (FFP) system is likely to be changed but refused to be drawn on the two-year ban facing Manchester City.
City are appealing to the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the verdict of UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) which found they had committed “serious breaches” of the FFP rules.
The regulations are designed to prevent clubs receiving unlimited amounts of money through inflated sponsorship deals with organisations related to the owners.
City have always denied any wrongdoing.
While the City case awaits appeal, Ceferin suggested there could be changes in the complex FFP process, which has faced criticism for making it tough for newly well-resourced clubs to break into Europe’s elite.
“Its too early to say how it will look in the future but we are thinking about it and will probably have to adapt,” he told reporters.
While the system was created to stop clubs going into debt, critics believe it may have created a closed ‘elite’ and Ceferin said change was on the agenda.
“It has been very successful as a system, there are almost no losses in European football any more and now we will probably have to adapt to different times,” he said.
“Our experts are in discussion but changes will not happen very soon, I assume.”
Ceferin said he had not been involved in the Manchester City case and would not be offering an opinion on it.
“I don’t know the case and it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to (offer an opinion) even if I did know the case,” he said.
“I have not spoken with any of the (CFCB) members before or after and didn’t see the case, before or after. As much as I’ve seen now, Manchester City have gone to CAS and let’s wait for the decision,” he said.
The Premier League champions have criticised the way UEFA carried out the investigation but Ceferin, a Slovenian lawyer, said it would be wrong for him to express a view.
“Look, as a lawyer I respect the system. The system we have — Investigatory Chamber and Adjudicatory Chamber and then we have CAS in Lausanne,” he said.
“For some administrators it’s a problem if you have an independent body. For me it’s a privilege,” added Ceferin.
Some media reports have suggested that UEFA officials fear abuse from City fans during the Champions League match against Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium on March 17 but UEFA general secretary Theodore Theodoridis rejected the notion.
“I’m absolutely confident that (there will be) no issues. Have spoken to (the) club and confident there will be no problem,” he said.
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Ken Ferris