Uefa general secretary David Taylor has warned clubs with large debts they could be excluded from European competitions.
The warning comes in the wake of Football Association chairman Lord Triesman’s admission on Tuesday that English clubs currently owe an estimated £3billion.
Taylor is concerned about the problem across the continent and has threatened to punish any club that fails to deal with serious debts.
“There would be forms of communication, even warnings, even reprimands before one would ever get to a situation of exclusion but it’s absolutely possible,” Taylor told the Leaders in Football Conference.
Taylor also expressed concern that clubs are putting their futures in jeopardy by taking on debts that they will not be able to repay.
He said: “We are looking at strengthening the minimal financial criteria and other forms of self regulation that may impose greater standards on clubs that want to compete in European competitions and beyond that club football.”
Uefa have set up a working party to examine ways of controlling the growing debt.
“This is an attempt to find greater financial stability, especially at a time when banks are failing,” Taylor said. “Governments might bail out banks but they are not going to bail out a football club,
“The current system needs to be looked at, it needs more transparency. We need to look at which areas we regulate to ensure the long-term stability of the clubs.
“It is not something that will happen overnight, we are still at the stage of investigating and developing solutions, but we are concerned about the longer term.”
Taylor also echoed Triesman in dismissing the current ‘fit and proper persons’ test for ownership as inadequate.
He added: “We welcome investment in football but we want stronger roots for that investment and this is an attempt to find greater stability.
“Many new owners or investors are not giving gifts to clubs. In most cases they are loans and ultimately the club is indebted to its benefactor.
“There are no solutions yet but we are all convinced something needs to be done.”