'Tough' sanctions for finance inquiry clubs

'Tough' sanctions for finance inquiry clubs

PARIS - UEFA will take "tough" action against top European clubs whose financing is being investigated, but none risks a Champions League ban, UEFA chief Michael Platini said Thursday.

Media reports have said England's Manchester City and Paris St Germain of France face particular scrutiny from the UEFA inquiry.

"I think significant sanctions will hit the big clubs. We are going to take this to the end," Platini told Le Parisien newspaper in an interview.

"The first decisions will be announced in early May. But if you expect blood and tears you will be disappointed," he added.

"There will be some tough things but no exclusions from European competitions," he said.

Platini did not mention any team that faces sanctions but said he was "not sure" that Paris St Germain follow UEFA's financial fair play rules.

Paris is owned by a subsidiary of the Qatari Investment Authority which has invested massively to turn it into a powerhouse in Europe. Laurent Blanc's team, with Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic as centrepiece, reached the quarter finals of the Champions League this year.

Paris has a sponsorship deal with the Qatari Tourism Authority which paid about 200 million euros in 2012-13, 50 per cent of the club's budget for the season.

The contract is "innovative", said Platini. "It is the least we can say." The UEFA boss said this was the path taken by Paris leaders to balance their budget. "But does PSG respect the financial fair play rules. Not sure ... not at all sure," commented Platini.

"Let's just say that the economic model of PSG is unique and not normal," he added.

Manchester City is owned by Abu Dhabi United Group whose resources have made it one of the wealthiest clubs in the world.

Under the UEFA rules, clubs are not meant to make losses of more than 45 million euros ($62 million) during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons. Some spending, such as new infrastructure, is exempt however.

City reported losses of £149 million (S$300 million) for 2011-13. But the club has cut the losses and expressed confidence that it can quickly break even.

Platini said he was sure that the financial fair play rules, intended to make clubs operate within their means, have had an impact.

He said the global deficit of European clubs fell to one billion euros this year, from 1.7 billion euros in 2012-13.

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