Spain's La Liga refused to accept a 220-million-euro ($260m) payment from Neymar for his move to Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona on Thursday, with league president Javier Tebas claiming the transfer would make it impossible for PSG to comply with UEFA's Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.
AFP Sport has taken a look at the details of FFP and what it could mean for Neymar's world-record breaking move.
Financial Fair Play was first approved by European football's governing body UEFA in 2010 to try and combat soaring debts in the game. From 2013-2015 clubs could only post an annual loss of 45 million euros, which was reduced to 30 million for the next three years, running until 2018. Investments in stadiums, training facilities, youth development and women's football are not included in the calculations, as UEFA want to encourage spending in those areas. UEFA explain FFP simply as "about improving the overall financial health of European club football".
Several big clubs have fallen foul of FFP rules in the past, including PSG, although total bans from European competition have been rare. The then English champions Manchester City and PSG were both given 60-million-euro fines, 40 million of which suspended, in 2014, and saw their squads for the Champions League cut from 25 to 21 players. Theoretically though, the sanctions could be far stricter for serious breaches of regulations, with UEFA listing "deduction of points", "disqualification from competitions" and "withdrawal of a title or award" as among the possible measures that can be taken against clubs.
La Liga certainly thinks so, but UEFA appeared to play down thoughts that PSG could see the move blocked on Thursday, saying that it was impossible to judge how the transfer would affect the club's balancing of the books in the long run. "The transfer of Neymar to PSG will have an effect on the club's finances over several years but the impact of such an operation cannot be judged in advance, notably as PSG could well sell several players for a significant amount," UEFA said in a statement to AFP. PSG triggered Neymar's buyout clause to make the deal, and Marcos Galera, a lawyer and founding member of Spanish sports law specialists Agaz, said that ultimately that would have to be accepted. "If you follow literally Spanish legislation, they had an indemnity clause agreed," he said. "And the rules are that if you have a clause agreed, you have to abide by it."
La Liga are looking to defend their biggest clubs, Barcelona and Real Madrid, who have won all of the last four editions of the Champions League. The two Spanish giants have a worldwide fanbase to call on to drive their huge revenues through TV rights, commercial deals and ticketing. However, they are wary of PSG's Qatari owners avoiding FFP restrictions by using inflated sponsorship deals from Qatari companies way above market value. Tebas believes PSG cannot possibly comply with FFP without such deals and has labelled the system "financial doping."