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UEFA to decide next month on 23 clubs in financial difficulty

Malaga's Sergio Sanchez and Willy Caballero react after their Champions League Group C soccer match at the Constant Vanden Stock stadium in Anderlecht, October 3, 2012. (REUTERS/Laurent Dubrule)

ROME: The 23 clubs that face losing Champions League and Europa League prize money for breaking UEFA’s financial fair play standards will learn their fate early next month.

The clubs, including defending Europa League champion Atletico Madrid and Champions League contender Malaga, have until Oct. 15 to convince UEFA they have plans to pay a combined 30 million euros ($39 million) in unpaid players’ wages, transfer fees and social taxes for the period ending Sept. 30.

UEFA’s director of club licensing Andrea Traverso told the Associated Press Thursday that his department will then refer cases of the clubs that are still behind to an independent judicial body chaired by former Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene, which will meet in early November.

Traverso was in Rome for a workshop with national federations.

Since July 2011, UEFA has monitored the accounts of all clubs that qualified for the Champions League and Europa League. Clubs are required to aim toward breaking even on their football-related business, and the worst offenders face being barred from the competitions from the 2014-15 season onward.

However, clubs face immediate penalties for breaking rules relating to “overdue payables.”

“It’s not just a project anymore, we’re into the application phase now and it has the support of the entire football family,” Traverso said.

European club debts were down 47 percent in the 2011-12 season compared to the year before. “That means the clubs are taking this seriously.”

Atletico and Malaga headlined the names of those who fell behind making payments at a June 30 deadline to enter the competitions. Sporting Lisbon and Fenerbahce are also being investigated.

Last season, UEFA paid Atletico 10.5 million euros in prize money funded by Europa League television rights and sponsorship deals.

Malaga can expect to earn at least 20 million euros from the Champions League even if it fails to advance to the last-16 knockout round.

After two matches, Malaga leads Group C of the Champions League with a full six points, two points ahead of AC Milan, which sold 63 million euros worth of players in the offseason – headlined by the moves of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Motta to PSG.

UEFA had already excluded AEK Athens of Greece, Gyor of Hungary and Besiktas of Turkey from this season’s Europa League. Other sanctions UEFA can apply include ruling newly signed players ineligible and restricting a club’s squad size.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 05, 2012, on page 14.

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