Inter’s owners, the Moratti family, have signed a deal to sell 15% of the club to China Railway in a deal that will raise E75m. In a move that appears to be deliberately designed to work around the FFP rules, the club have announced that the funds will be used to build a new 60,000 seater stadium for Inter. Inter failed to make the Champions League this season and had already been struggling to meet the FFP criteria.
Under the FFP rules, only specified types of income (termed ‘Relevant income’) can be included in the Break Even test (e.g. Match-day income, Commercial income are all ‘Relevant Income’). However, the income received from selling equity cannot be counted towards the Break-even Test.
To work round the rules, Inter will use the E75m to build a new stadium – crucially, any spend on infrastructure (such as a new stadium) is not counted as a ‘Relevant expense’. This means the funds spent on the stadium will also be excluded from the Break Even test. If Inter had simply spent the money on wages and transfer fees (all ‘Relevant expenses’) they would have failed the FFP test.
UEFA are unlikely to be perturbed by the Inter deal and will probably welcome the deal. The FFP rules are deliberately designed to favour expenditure on income-generating infrastructure projects over player wages and transfer fees. Once built, the new stadium will generate additional Commercial income for the club and help them meet the FFP test long-term. The existing San Siro is ageing and doesn’t allow the club to effectively exploit commercial opportunities through corporate packages. Naming-rights for the stadium will inevitably be up for grabs (something not easily maximised with the shared San Siro). However this deal won’t help them in the short term and back in September 2011 Massimo Moratti advised they were struggling to meet the first FFP Monitoring Period test – failing to get into the Champions League in 2012/13 will not have helped.
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