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UEFA lifts Man City, PSG sanctions after clubs curb spending

July 3, 2015

GENEVA (AP) — European soccer’s governing body lifted key Financial Fair Play sanctions against Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain on Friday after both clubs met spending limits imposed last year.

The decision lets both clubs spend more on player transfers and wages, UEFA said.

Both clubs also avoided being fined 20 million euros ($22.2 million) of Champions League prize money they earned last season. Fines would have been triggered for further over-spending.

PSG president Nasser Al Khelaifi welcomed a “fair and constructive decision” by UEFA.

“We are now able to be more active on the transfer market to make our team even more competitive by recruiting the right talents that our team needs,” Al Khelaifi said on the club website.

Last offseason, the threat of further sanctions appeared to block Man City’s interest in signing Radamel Falcao from Monaco. PSG also ended attempts to sign Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid. Both players joined Manchester United.

One reward for curbing transfer and salary spending was that Man City and PSG can select from 25-man rosters for the 2015-16 Champions League season.

Both were limited to 21 players last season as part of initial sanctions imposed by UEFA in May 2014, when each club forfeited 20 million euros ($22.2 million) of Champions League prize money.

Man City and PSG, then the champions of England and France, were the two biggest victims of the first round of sanctions in UEFA’s financial project to cut club losses across Europe.

Both had spent heavily in recent seasons after being bought with sovereign wealth funds, with Abu Dhabi’s taking over Man City and Qatar’s gaining control of PSG.

“The FFP context didn’t permit us to grow as fast as we wished,” Al Khelaifi said on Friday.

Critics of FFP noted the owners of Man City and PSG invested new money into soccer and did not load their clubs with debt.

UEFA’s rules, however, look favorably on Man United, whose global brand and huge commercial revenues allow it to service hundreds of millions of dollars of debt from a leveraged buyout in 2005 by its American owners, the Glazer family.

Despite meeting their first targets, Man City and PSG will stay “under strict monitoring” to approach break-even on their soccer trading as part of the two-season slate of sanctions, UEFA said on Friday.

Man City agreed not to increase the value of some deals with sponsors with partners from Abu Dhabi and to exclude the sale of some assets in its break-even calculations.

UEFA also downgraded the true market value of PSG’s sponsorship deal with Qatar’s tourism board.

In further easing of FFP, UEFA this week confirmed it would encourage new investment by owners who could show a business plan that would not risk a club’s long-term stability.

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