The precisely entitled 'UEFA Club Licencing and Financial Fair Play Regulations,' is a 93 page document designed to both '...encourage clubs to operate on the basis of their own revenues,' and 'encourage responsible spending.' It may also yet prove to be the toast of insomnia sufferers worldwide but given that the regulations come into effect this season it is worth considering the implications, as football clubs face a fine or loss of their Champions League place for non-compliance.
Once you delve into the structure and meat of the text, you feel a certain sense of déja vu. When buying online we see excerpts of these types of documents but we make do with ticking the box stating that we have read them in full. Occasionally we try to read the agreement but quickly recoil when confronted by the impenetrable sea of litigious psychobabble. We have learned to ignore the lingering worry that we have relinquished our right to free speech, liberty or our first-born.
In the main, Uefa are hoping to deal with both financial incompetence, as demonstrated by Portsmouth FC and Glasgow Rangers and the increasingly familiar scenario of rich benefactors spending heavily on their clubs. The latter has emphasised the existence of a two-tier system, consisting of those that have to live within their means and those that do not, epitomised by Manchester City and Chelsea.
Clubs must not spend in excess of 5 million Euros more than they earn each season. They may however spend an additional 45 million Euros over the next three seasons, as long as they balance the books with a cash gift or a share option. This figure then decreases to 30 million Euros from 2014/2015 to the end of 2017/2018.
Crucially, youth development, infrastructure and training facilities are the key areas exempt from being considered as spending. This aims to encourage clubs to develop their own talent rather than spending big bucks on transfers and wages. There are a number of other exceptions including players' wages before June 2010 but I will deal with them another day.
The new regulations may appear worthy but there are potential loopholes and the big clubs will have their best financial brains working on exploiting them.
Sponsorship deals are considered as income, so clubs may use one of their subsidiary companies to sponsor anything to do with the club. If Sir Alex paid 500 million Euros to put his name on Fred the Red, that would be considered legitimate income and could be set against further spending in the transfer market.
Uefa have attempted to respond to many of the perceived ills of the game with these regulations and are aiming to create a more level playing field by tackling players' wages, youth development, the perceived unfairness of some having limitless resources and the financially suicidal paths taken by others.
The regulations will bite harder as the seasons pass and may have already prevented some clubs from buying before selling first. It will be interesting to watch how the elite cope with the new restrictions but if they begin to suffer, there may yet be legal challenges.