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Arsenal could survive missing out on Champions League

Arsene Wenger has been the target of fan fury and media speculation since the club's defeat by Blackburn in the FA Cup and their 1-3 loss at home to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.   But Wenger retains the support of the Arsenal board with owner Stan Kroneke expected to emphasise his backing for the belaguered manager at today's monthly board meeting.

BT interested in ESPN's football rights

BT is in discussions to acquire football rights from sports broadcaster ESPN as the Disney-owned channel explores an exit from the UK.   The rights that are available include matches from the Bundesliga, Europa League and FA Cup.   However, BSkyB is also interested.

Top clubs back Europa League

Europe's top clubs have given their support to the current format of Uefa competitions following speculation over the future of the Europa League.   In Novrmber Uefa president Michel Platini created a stir when he said that expanding the Champions League to 64 teams and getting rid of the Europa League was an option.

Does money buy success?

This is the question that football economics guru Stefan Szymanski poses in his latest blog posting.  His broad answer is yes in terms of domestic leagues, but not to anywhere near the same extent in relation to club competition at international level for a number of reasons.

Szymanski argues that the influx of money into the Premier League has improved the quality of play.  But some foreign players and managers are reluctant to relocate to the UK and have to be paid above the odds to be persuaded to come.

Understanding financial fair play

This is by no means easy as the rules are complex, perhaps deliberately so in order to give Uefa plenty of wriggle room.  As we have said many times, a lot depends on how the rules are enforced and whether they are challenged in the courts.

Sports lawyer Daniel Geey has produced his 'ten top tips' for understanding the rules.   So if you want to know what an acceptable deviation is, and how it is calcjulated, here is your chance.

Profit turns into loss at Spurs

The effects on a club of not being in the Champions League are illustrated by the accounts of Tottenham Hotspur for the 2011-12 season.   A £700,000 profit the previous year turned into a £4.3m  loss.

Club revenue was down 12 per cent from £163m to £144m while 'profit from operations' dropped to £23m from £38m.   Commercial revenues continued to increase but merchandising fell by four per cent. The club made a loss of £1.6m before interest and tax, down from a £1.4m profit the previous year.

Taxing problem for financial fair play

Gabriele Marcoti makes an interesting point in an article in The Times yesterday about how different tax regimes across Europe undermine the fairness of Uefa's financial fair play (FFP) ruiles.

His thoughts on the subject were stimulated by France's 75 per cent tax on higher earners, struck down by the Constitutional Court but likely to come back once the law has been re-written to deal with the court's objections.

Transfer window could see big spending

With prices high and bargains rare, clubs are not usually incentivised to go out and spend in the January transfer window.  In the last post-Christmas window the net spend was just £32.3m.   However, it may be different this year.   The compressed nature of the table may give clubs the motive to splash the cash.

The future of the Champions League and Europa League

The future of the Champions League and Europa League is under discussion by Uefa.   One possibility is the absorption of the Europa League by the Champions League to create a 64-club competition.  Quite how this would work out in practice remains to be seen, but it could involve an eight club group stage but with only one fixture between clubs instead of two as at present.

Financial fair play isn't so fair

We have long taken the view that financial fair play is not so fair as it looks.  It offers a means for the current elite clubs to shore up their dominance.  We have also expressed doubts about how effectively it can be enforced.