35 supporters of Paris Saint-Germain filed a complaint with the European Commission and joined in the action pending before the Court of First Instance of Brussels.
35 PSG-fans have lodged a complaint with the European Commission for breach of competition law about the UEFA rule which obliges clubs to meet the ‘requirement of financial stability’, i.e. the ’break-even rule’.
Former Vice-President of the European Commission and Competition Commissioner, Joaquín Almunia, dismissed in the very last days of his term in office the complaint lodged by player agent Daniel STRIANI.
The reason given for the rejection of the complaint is that, according to the European Commission, the Court of First Instance of Brussels (where Mr. STRIANI has also initiated proceedings) is “well placed to ensure compliance with European competition law including by addressing questions to the European Court of Justice”.
However, as stated in the Commission letter rejecting the STRIANI case, the complaints registered under numbers AT.40217 and AT.40222 which had also been filed by supporters of various member states (including the 15,000 members of the “Manchester City FC Supporters Club“) have not been rejected and are now being processed by the Commission’s Competition services.
The PSG complaint is the third complaint lodged by fans to be received by the European Commission. As consumers of the ‘product’ of football, the PSG supporters denounce the serious violations of competition law generated by the UEFA rule.
In short, it is no more than a prohibition on investment (and therefore, a restriction of competition ‘by object’, one of the worst breaches of the law) that fossilizes market structure for the sole benefit of the few historical clubs forming the current European elite.
Therefore, for most other clubs, the rule increases the price of the football ‘product’ (ticketing, merchandising, etc.) at the expense of fans and – at the same time – leads to a decrease in the quality of the product.
Franck BOUCHER, community coordinator of the « supporters-against-FFP » (https://www.facebook.com/supporterscontrelefairplayfinancier) said:
“Every day we receive new requests from people wanting to join the ongoing actions. All necessary information to this effect is on our Facebook page. At first, it was mainly supporters of PSG but now supporters of other clubs are beginning to understand that the negative effects of the UEFA rule affect them as much (if not more) as the PSG or Manchester City fans.
For example, the UEFA rule renders impossible a strong development of clubs like Olympique Marseille or RC Lens by means of an ambitious investor since this rule prohibits any owner from injecting money into a club and make it grow“.
These 35 PSG fans have also joined in the action pending before the Court of First Instance of Brussels.
It should also be recalled that the Court of Brussels was recently petitioned by all applicants, seeking an interim relief measure.
The interim relief sought is to prohibit UEFA (until the Court makes its decision on the merits of the case) to trigger the second phase of the implementation of its « break-even requirement », i.e. to force UEFA to stick to the rule as currently applied (with the possibility of a deficit of up to 45 million) rather than imposing clubs, as required by its rules, the hardening rule (allowing only 30 million deficit).
The Brussels court is expected to make its decision on the application for interim relief in March or April 2015, i.e. before the next summer transfer window.
As counsels for plaintiffs / applicants
Jean-Louis DUPONT Martin HISSEL