Cut losses or face new laws, MPs tell English soccer clubs

Soccer clubs

New laws should be introduced to force English soccer clubs to clean up their finances unless they adopt European rules to curb spending, a group of British politicians said on Tuesday.

The call adds to pressure on the 20-team Premier League to implement Financial Fair Play (FFP) measures which European soccer's governing body UEFA has already introduced for leading teams across the continent.

New television contracts are expected to generate more than five billion pounds ($7.9 billion) over the next three years for the Premier League, the world's richest in term of revenue.

However, English clubs often struggle to translate cash into profit because as much as 70 percent of their income is paid out in wages.

A report into football governance from Parliament's Culture, Media and Sport Committee did not expect that trend to change.

"We see little evidence that clubs will spend significant amounts of the funding available from the latest broadcasting rights settlement on increasing their sustainability rather than on players' salaries and transfers," it said.

Raising concerns over debt levels in English soccer, it called on the Premier League to follow the example of the second-tier Championship and adopt FFP rules to rein in losses.

"If they are not enforced, then we consider that legislation will be required to impose some financial discipline on clubs," the report added.

REFORM OF FA SOUGHT

The committee, comprising MPs from the three main political parties, criticised what it called a "disappointing" response to its initial inquiry into how the game is run.

It stepped up its calls for reform of the Football Association (FA), English soccer's governing body, to reduce the influence of the Premier League. Legislation should be introduced to shake up the FA if there was no progress within a year, it added.

Although the report is not binding, sports minister Hugh Robertson welcomed its findings.

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