Europe’s rich elite appear to have found a way to help bring their financial balance – and debt levels – within UEFA’s financial fair play rules: long-term super sponsorship.
UEFA has warned that it will examine the big-money deals to analyse whether they are bloated artificially by comparison with the market rate. But, of course, the rate within the uniquely peculiar market of the football industry is set by . . . the clubs.
This circularity is one of the reasons the Qatari owners of newly-enriched Paris Saint-Germain view the approach of financial fair play with equanimity.
Recent mega-deals with sponsors concluded by the likes of market leaders such as Manchester United (Chevrolet), Manchester City (Etihad), Barcelona (Qatar Foundation), Real Madrid and Chelsea have provided the benchmark for their own financial negotiations.
The latest deal in the Parisian pipeline is what should be a four-year, E100m-a-year sponsorship with the Qatari National Bank. On top of a sudden improvement in form in the league and a 4-1 Champions League thrashing of Kyiv Dynamo – who promptly recalled Oleg Blokhin as coach – this all adds to the growing credibility of a club which has consistently underachieved.
Little wonder owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi was happy to top the European summer spending league with an outlay of €147million. He says he has complete confidence in the club’s ability to hit all their financial fair play targets while UEFA’s French president Michel Platini looks on in comparative silence.
QNB has been tied in with PSG since last February but the new contract is far more significant and will promote the bank into the shirt sponsor next season in place of Fly Emirates.
Al-Khelaifi also expects to nail a naming rights deal concerning the Parc des Princes though the formula – sponsor plus traditional stadium name – has yet to be revealed.
That could be interesting: it might set a trend for Manchester United and the rest of the super-rich to find of way of selling naming rights to their own stadia . . . the one trick which has eluded them all so far.
As long as they all secure roughly equal contracts that will be the market rate so UEFA can have no objection, surely?