As the European football leagues pause for the international break, it allows some time to reflect on another transfer window in which the rich clubs have once again spent extravagant sums of money on players. As the closure of the window approached on September 1st, the impending transfer of one player in particular seemed to dominate the headlines. Yet even the protracted departure of Radamel Falcao from Monaco seemed to follow a trend recently arising from the imposition of the UEFA Financial Fair Play Rules (FFP).
These rules stipulate basically stipulate that incoming revenues must equal outgoing expenditure over a set period but the when the likes of Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid are spending in excess of £50 million pounds on one player plus other less expensive footballers, a point must be reached where the finance available for new recruits becomes limited.
For Falcao, the wages earned while playing for Monaco plus his lengthy spell on the sidelines with injury have reduced his relative value as a saleable asset yet Monaco hoped to recoup most of the £50 million they paid Atletico Madrid for his services in 2013.
With Real Madrid and Manchester City among others unable to afford another hefty outlay due to FFP guidelines, the idea of a loan deal was mooted. This involves assuming responsibility for his wages but only paying a small loan fee with the option of a permanent acquisition at the culmination of the loan period. In the case of Manchester United, this seemed a creditable option having already spent well in excess of £100 million this summer.
Thus United were able to sign the player for at least one season without breaking the FFP rules and then loaned Javier Hernandez to Real Madrid for a similar loan period, although no fee has been mentioned in this case. This is the same Real Madrid team which has bought Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez among others.
Whereas at one time, the loan system allowed less affluent clubs to borrow players from wealthier teams to help offset potential injuries, it now appears that it is becoming beneficial for the richer clubs to use this method as a means of overcoming FFP regulations.
There is no doubt that FFP is serving its purpose in preventing rich owners from monopolising the transfer market and it is perhaps ironic that Monaco will be one of the more affected teams with a billionaire owner yet with regular attendances barely averaging 10,000.
However, the latest transfer window has proved that they are means available of bypassing these rules and it is the clubs which have already spent vast sums of money which seem to be the greatest exploiters. Had FFP not been enforced within the past year, expenditure on players would probably have been that much greater.