January 25, 2012 / 5:35 PM / 8 years ago

Soccer-UEFA warning as losses reach 1.3 billion pounds

NYON, Switzerland, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Europe’s top clubs lost more than 1.3 billion pounds ($2 billion) in 2010 and that staggering figure shows little sign of slowing, European soccer’s governing body UEFA said on Wednesday.

UEFA’s general secretary Gianni Infantino told a news conference at UEFA’s headquarters: “This is the last wakeup call for everyone, this trend has to change very quickly to safeguard European football.

“We must end this negative spiral and gamble for success. These losses cannot continue.”

UEFA, which is in the advanced stages of establishing new principles on financial regulation for clubs under its Financial Fair Play rules which come into force for the 2013-14 season, issued a report on Wednesday, the Benchmarking Report.

Covering 650 clubs it highlighted that 56 percent of clubs reported losses in the 2009-10 financial year and their total debt was 7 billion pounds ($11 billion).

The report, reviewed by UEFA’s Executive Committee this week, takes on an increasing significance, as UEFA’s financial fair play measures began to take effect during this season and will be fully implemented for European competitions by the 2013-14 campaign.

Clubs who fall foul of the rules face banishment from the Champions League and Europa League.

Other figures from the report show that incomes held up well despite the challenging economic conditions with an increase of 6.6 per cent in top-division income, but the bottom line figure continued to deteriorate with a 1.3 billion-pound net loss reported by top-division clubs - 36 per cent higher than the previous financial year.

Jean-Michel Aulas, the president of Olympic Lyon, added: “There is a very big emphasis on the objectives of Financial Fair Play because the objective is not to sanction, it’s not to cut the heads.

“The objective is to make those who arrive with more money than the others understand. Tomorrow’s model will be a construction of stadiums, construction of schools and financing things in everyone’s general interest - and football’s general interest.”

Reporting by Vincent Fribault and Signe Grejsen Nissen, writing by Mike Collett, editing by Ed Osmond

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