PSG Fans Join Manchester Rivals to Fight UEFA Fair Play

Paris Saint-Germain’s fans joined supporters of Manchester City to attack measures by Europe’s soccer governing body UEFA aimed at preventing soccer clubs from amassing losses.

Thirty-five PSG supporters said today the rules are “no more than a prohibition on investment” and a restriction of competition as they filed a complaint against UEFA’s so-called Financial Fair Play with the European Union’s antitrust arm.

UEFA and its President, Michel Platini, introduced the regulations after billionaire-backed teams as well as smaller clubs racked up 1.7 billion euros ($2.1 billion) of losses in

2011. Manchester City and PSG, the English and French champions, got record fines in May for breaching the fiscal curbs.

“Every day we receive new requests from people wanting to join the ongoing actions,” said Franck Boucher, a coordinator of the grouping ‘supporters-against-FFP,’ in a statement released by the plaintiffs’ lawyers Jean-Louis Dupont and Martin Hissel. The pair said they are also handling a similar complaint to the EU by members of the Manchester City FC Supporters Club.

UEFA representatives said the Nyon, Switzerland-based body “believes that Financial Fair Play is fully in line with EU law.” The European Commission said it received a complaint and declined to comment further. Representatives of PSG declined to give an immediate comment.

‘Fossilized Market’

EU regulators are examining the Manchester City fans’ complaint, according to Dupont and Hissel.

The FFP measure “fossilizes market structure for the sole benefit of the few historical clubs forming the current European elite,” they said . “For most other clubs, the rule increases the price of the football ‘product’ -- ticketing, merchandising, etc. -- at the expense of the fans.”

The commission, which oversees fair competition in the EU, last month rejected a similar complaint by Daniel Striani, a Brussels-based player agent also represented by Dupont.

Striani said the rules infringe EU competition law and the right to free movement of workers, service and capital. Dupont successfully overturned rules on player transfers in a landmark case in 1995 on behalf of Belgian player Jean-Marc Bosman.

Striani is also challenging the FFP rules at the Court of First Instance in Brussels.

‘Pro-Competitive Arguments’

“There are a number of arguments to justify the rule as pro-competitive,” Daniel Geey, a sports lawyer at Field Fisher LLP in London, said.

“Many fans throughout Europe, and in particular in the U.K., have been through huge financial upheaval with their clubs because the club overspent,” Geey said. Many would “have preferred a stable regulatory environment that promotes better logic and rational spending rather than a free-market environment that put clubs on the brink of bankruptcy.”

Under the break-even rule, clubs with a loss of more than 5 million euros in the past and present season risk exclusion from next season’s Champions League and Europa League, the continent’s top club competitions.

Clubs can have a loss of as much as 45 million euros a season if shareholders cover the loss. The UEFA regulations don’t apply to domestic championships.

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