Rob Palmer

Rules for thee and not for me

La Liga may be right complaining about Manchester City and PSG, but it also needs to get its own house in order

Rob Palmer
ROB PALMER

La Liga accusing its French and English counterparts of financial shenanigans is a bit like a reforming alcoholic screaming at the neighbours who are having an all-night party.

The sobering words are "profitability and sustainability". There is much truth in the allegation from the Spanish footballing president that "spending rules do not exist".

This is very bold and honourable. Well, it would be if FC Barcelona weren't recovering from going €1 billion in debt and Real Madrid failed to land Kylian Mbappé for €200 million a couple of weeks ago.

In fairness to Real Madrid, they have managed their financial affairs diligently throughout the uncertain pandemic times and the prospective Mbappé money had been saved up over several years.

Over in Barcelona, it will be a long time until they recover from the hangover of receiving a ridiculous €222 million for Neymar, which was blown on Ousmane Dembele, Phillipe Coutinho and Antoine Griezmann. The financials haven't just been irregular; they have been downright erratic.

Credit to La Liga for taking on some financial responsibility. I'm convinced its self-regulation is ahead of the game and other leagues will eventually follow its lead.

Although UEFA did try to impose a ban on Manchester City for breaches of Financial Fair Play but lost out after an appeal.

No one can quite explain how PSG balance the books as they continually blow the bank on signings and paying off managers with se ttlements.

The allegations of rule-breaking in the English Premier League don't just come from Spain. Relegation fighters Leeds United and Burnley formed a pact to make a complaint against another struggler, Everton. The regulations allowed top flight clubs to lose £105 million over three years in the lockdown circumstances. They claimed Everton had blown £371 million.

There are certainly some mysteries to be solved in England. How can Everton squander so much? How can Chelsea stockpile players? How can Newcastle offer more money than any La Liga club?

In my opinion, La Liga needs to get its own house in order to look at sustainability, modernisation and work on profits.

Here's an example. This week, the fixtures were released for next season. The English Premier League has already confirmed not just the rounds but also the days and kick-off times. The Spanish equivalent has just given an outline of which weekends the games will be played over.

If you are a fan, you can make plans in England. My wife is in the background organising her Manchester City diary. The television companies can start organising schedules and advertising. Corporate partners can start campaigns and invite business guests to matches.

In Spain, it will be left until just a couple of weeks before the game to confirm the kick-off time. They lose football tourists as well as regular supporters who have already made plans and it frustrates media partners who can't get organised.

La Liga is correct to question the integrity of rival leagues but must look internally rather than shouting the odds at its neighbours.