THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Disputes over fines going to charity or teams

icon moneysave10 September ~ Up to half of the clubs in the Championship could fail to meet the new Financial Fair Play criteria. That is the estimate by Trevor Watkins, a lawyer specialising in football finance and a former chairman of AFC Bournemouth. Watkins was speaking at the Soccerex conference on the business side of football in Manchester on Tuesday. His view was countered by Football League chief executive officer Shaun Harvey, who suggested that the number would be lower once clubs take into account adjustments for certain types of spending.

Money spent in areas such as youth development, for example, can be counted against losses, as Harvey said: "It's not as simple as looking at the bottom of the P&L [profit and loss] sheet".

Championship clubs must file FFP returns by December 1. "Only then will we know if half the clubs are in debt, but those that are will find themselves under a transfer embargo," added Harvey, better known to Leeds fans as the man in charge when their club was sold to Dubai group GFH capital.

While no one on the Soccerex panel, titled "Shaping the game: the governance, regulation and finance of football", directly blamed the Premier League the implication was clear. Bemoaning the inequalities of the Championship, Harvey disclosed that parachute payments to clubs just relegated from the Premier League total £27 million. The payment drops to £21.4m two years after relegation then £11.6m in year three.

Championship clubs that have not spent time in the world's richest league get a £4m solidarity payment. This too is provided by the Premier League as part of solidarity payments totalling just over £50m a year distributed between the league's 72 clubs. Charlton Athletic's attempts to return to the Premier League helped run up losses of £12.8m, according to new chief executive officer Katrien Meire, who was on the same panel.

Money raised from the Fair Play Tax was going to go back to non-offending Championship clubs, but will now go to charities. Harvey hopes they will be football-related ones near Championship clubs. A heavy fine on Queens Park Rangers will boost the sum raised and Meire estimates Charlton's share would have been worth £2m. She expects to bring her club in line with FFP and suggested that clubs such as her own deserved the cash. Were that money to be repaid to clubs, a good share would go on players' wages, but the notion of money being diverted from charities to players barely registered. Steve Menary

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