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UEFA chief Platini defends Financial Fair Play, insists goal stays same ahead of easing rules

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NYON, Switzerland — UEFA president Michel Platini insists his Financial Fair Play project to control club spending is "here to stay" and has not changed approach.

The goal "remains the same," Platini said Thursday, despite revealing this week that UEFA will soon relax the rules.

"We have just been working on moving from a period of austerity to one where we can offer more opportunities for sustainable growth," Platini said in an interview published by UEFA's website.

Platini's timing ahead of the offseason transfer window opening means wealthy club owners should be able to spend more on player transfers and wages.

Rule changes could also help some clubs find international buyers who are currently put off by limits on how quickly to improve the team with new players.

UEFA's rules imposed since Platini launched the project in 2009 have been criticized for protecting commercially successful elite clubs from challenges by ambitious opponents.

Still, he pointed to a 75 percent cut in combined annual losses by clubs monitored by UEFA after qualifying for the Champions League or Europa League.

"In a short period of time, Financial Fair play is achieving what it set out to do: restore the financial health of European football and put clubs on a much better and more solid financial foundation," Platini said.

However, UEFA imposed the biggest sanctions on Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, which are financially secure with owners from Abu Dhabi and Qatar, respectively.

The champions of England and France last season were each fined 20 million euros ($22.8 million) for rules violations. UEFA also imposed limits on the clubs' future transfer spending and salary bills, with further 20 million euro ($22.8 million) fines to be activated for breaches.

Platini said those sanctions "will remain in force" even if updated rules are approved at a June 29-30 meeting of UEFA's executive committee in Prague.

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