Over the past few weeks, Leicester and Nottingham faced the wrath of the Premier League. Both clubs were punished for allegedly breaking FFP regulations.

They join Everton in the Prem’s move to enforce their FFP guidelines.


Everton’s early season punishment should have served as a warning to clubs across the league. No more was FFP a joke; it’s now the law of the land.

Most fans were taken aback by the sudden punishments doled out by the Premier League. Leicester isn’t even in the Prem this season and still found a way to be disciplined. Just like with Everton, fans didn’t expect these clubs to be the ones singled out by the league.

Photo: BBC

It’s overplayed to constantly harp on the fact that City have dodged punishments. However, it could be argued that this is how this system works. Leagues are much more concerned with bottom clubs endangering themselves financially than the rich getting richer.

Out of all of Europe’s leagues, none seem more intent to enforce their regulations like the Prem. It does make sense for a league that is looking to place itself as the World’s premier sports enterprise.


Ostensibly, Financial Fair Play laws are meant to ensure the league’s financial stability. In theory, these laws apply to all clubs in order to ensure no one is spending beyond their means.

While all clubs should be forced to play within their financial means, football is littered with clubs overstretching themselves. The lower levels are full of clubs ruined by owners trying to move up the ladder by spending too much. TV and endorsement deals promise so much money that owners are blinded by the prospect.

Chart: Swiss Ramble

Of course, owners should be willing to spend more to better their squads, but leagues aim to ensure stability. It’s on owners to spend what they can to better teams to compete for spots in the lucrative Premier League. There’s no reason for clubs to be cheap while staying within their budget.

The crux of the ruling body’s argument is that aggressive spending threatens a club’s ability to function. No club can be allowed to go broke in the Prem and bring down the league.

At the same time, it’s imperative that as much parity is kept across the league as possible. Larger clubs must account for their finances as well. There can’t just be a select few clubs who can just about sign any player by using dodgy deals to fund them.

This is the basis of the charges against City and why they are currently facing scrutiny. Clubs that are owned by massive state entities can more easily circumvent any law, which means that there are infinite opportunities to fudge numbers. 

FFP laws make sense and should be enforced to ensure healthy competition. The issue, of course, lies in the enforcement.


Ask just about any fan, and they’re likely confused as to why City has dodged disciplinary measures. Like PSG, they seem untouchable.

However, it could be argued that this is the system working as the league wants it. Unless City ever appears to be on the edge of collapse, they’ll likely be left alone. City brings too much success and money to be harassed.

Top clubs spending money left and right, theoretically, bring stars to the league that help the league’s status. This symbiotic relationship won’t be stopped by the league as long as clubs go deep in European competition. Dodgy sponsorship deals aren’t thought of as corruption but rather as the cost of doing business.

For the Prem, it’s the thought of smaller clubs spending beyond their means that’s more threatening. Smaller clubs collapsing threaten the stability of the league, not parity, which the league cares more about.

Photo: Front Office Sports

It’s easier to discipline a club hovering around the relegation zone by all but confirming their move downward. There’s no real mess when these clubs are punished because they lack the ability to fight back. Additionally, the league can then pretend to have cared about the laws all along. 

For a league aiming to truly cement itself as the top sports enterprise, clubs can’t be allowed to accrue debt and fail to pay players. That brings more bad press to the league than a massive gap between the rich and poor of the Prem.

Time will tell whether the Prem will win the case against City. It’s very likely that City will face little to no consequences, which may just be met with crickets from the league. 

Discussing Financial Fair Play enforcement makes you feel like Rust Cohle from True Detective. You know that something is wrong but can’t really prove it while fully understanding the system will do nothing. For now, smaller clubs looking to survive in the Prem will pay the price for the giants.


Photo: Sky Sports

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