The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Arsene Wenger wants strong penalties against clubs breaching UEFA's financial fair play rules
LONDON - Arsene Wenger will feel "let down" if UEFA does not take a strong stance against clubs found guilty of breaking Financial Fair Play rules.
UEFA will announce the first sanctions this month and more serious cases will be judged in June. A UEFA panel has negotiated settlements with clubs which have breached rules designed to curb owners' excessive spending on transfers and wages since 2011.
"One of the rules is that normally you should be banned for the excess of the financial amount that is not justified, that is if you are 100 million pounds ($169 million) overboard, you should be punished for 100 million of your wages bill in the Champions League," the Arsenal manager said during a pre-match news conference on Friday.
UEFA said in February it targeted 76 clubs which played in the Champions League or Europa League. Speculation centred on big spenders Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City, which are owned by the ruling families of Qatar and Abu Dhabi, respectively.
Wenger said it's in UEFA's interest to send a strong message when the first sanctions are issued in order to convince clubs to take its scheme seriously.
"I want to see that respected. If that is not respected, then the Financial Fair Play will have problems to be respected in the future because everyone will just not consider it at all," Wenger said.
UEFA appointed former Belgium Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene to lead the panel investigating club accounts. Serious sanctions will be decided by a panel led by Jose Cunha Rodrigues of Portugal, a judge at the European Court of Justice.
Expulsion from the Champions League and second-tier Europa League are the toughest penalty UEFA reserves but its president, Michel Platini, said last week in an interview with a French newspaper that clubs won't be excluded from next season's Champions League.
Wenger believes Platini's announcement could be linked to TV rights sales.
"That has gone now out. I have thought about that problem and the media might play a part in that, because when UEFA sells the rights of the Champions League to a French TV station, it is very difficult to explain to them once they have paid the money that the best club in their country will not play in the competition, so that might be one of the reasons behind that," the French coach said.
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