Today it was finally announced that Fulham have been handed a transfer embargo by the Football League as a result of breaching Financial Fair Play regulations.
It is a mark of how jaded by failure we’ve become over Fulham’s short but extraordinary fall from grace that this news does not come as a surprise. That does not make it any less infuriating, but is a sad indictment of the ever-growing list of mismanaged situations that have come to be synonymous with our club in recent times.
We are a laughing stock. Not to the outside world – they stopped caring a while ago, but to ourselves.
The club’s statement is little more than a fourteen line excuse.
“Football League has since recognised this limit is low, especially for clubs recently relegated with Premier League overheads in place, and the limit has now increased to £13m per annum”.
Why then are Fulham the only relegated side to be included in those receiving sanctions?
In years gone by, we would have sat atop our high horse and sneered at clubs like Leeds, Blackburn and Nottingham Forest. These were all club’s with bigger pasts that Fulham but who had spectacularly let their fans down during their decent into the obscurity of ordinary club status. Yet here we are, just 5 years on from a Europa League Final staring at the bleak reality that we have become one of them. Indeed we now sit alongside Nottingham Forest on the naughty step.
Financial Fair Play is incredibly complex and as fans we are not experts. We simply want and assume our club is going to do everything it can to succeed. We just aren’t doing that. Yet the simple question that you can’t help but ask in this situation is how did Fulham let themselves fall foul of a system they know is in place? Was there oversight or did we simply think we were too big to get caught?
The club’s statement states they knew an embargo was coming hence the investment in the squad. However, it is not like our investment was particularly seismic. The club spent in the region of £7.5m on transfer fees last summer but at the end of the day the squad is still imbalanced and two of our most important players actually arrived on free transfers.
To an outsider looking in, it appears FFP does not look too kindly on owners supporting their clubs with parachuted capital. It may be that our breach was something of a necessary evil given what came before. Any breach or irregularity likely to relate to the financial investment that was committed in an effort to keep Fulham in the Premier League combined with the staggering loss of income as a result of us failing to do so. The Club’s statement alludes to this but it is hard to know to what extent this breach is Mitroglan.
As the club want us to believe, this may be an indictment of the system itself. The Premier League exists as a champagne bubble so highly removed from the financial reality of the Football League that this FFP breach may be more a result of the system than anything else. However, if that was really the case, why don’t all relegated clubs fall foul of the financial regulations and also get hit with sanctions?
No, this is our bad. Like the bungled search for a new manager, this is just another notch on an increasingly sad bedpost.
Merry Christmas Fulham style