The Neymar soap opera could take an unexpected plot twist following Javier Tebas’ comments to Diario AS journalist Joaquin Maroto: LaLiga will not accept PSG’s payment of €222m to activate Neymar’s release clause. His argument is that the Parisians’ pursuit of the Brazilian tramples all over Financial Fair Play regulations. To define the situation at PSG, Tebas coins a particular expression: the ‘state-backed club’. The Qatar Tourist Authority, in its capacity as a sponsor, has invested sums of money in to PSG that exceed those that Real Madrid, Manchester United, or Barcelona receive on the open market. Those three clubs have the most powerful brands in world football.
PSG's Neymar move defies the market
A while ago UEFA considered putting a stop to these injections of external money that alter the market and violate competition rules. Tebas explained using a colourful analogy: “Can you imagine if a state bought Carrefour to give out chicken as a gift?” No. That would destroy the sector. In a pure market it is inconceivable that PSG would be able to part with such a vast sum of money for Neymar, and that is before taking his salary in to account. Not long ago, UEFA fined PSG €60m, but the sanction was later removed in mysterious circumstances. Now, Andrea Traverso, who is in charge of Financial Fair Play at UEFA, is turning a blind eye.
Where will it end?
I don’t know how this will transpire. The normal process when a club activates a player’s release clause, is that the money is deposited with LaLiga, and the player is ‘liberated’ upon its delivery. If LaLiga won’t accept the money, what happens? Neymar and PSG would have to go to the courts, to UEFA, to FIFA… or directly to Barça, paying the fee directly with the consent of the selling club. It isn’t easy to predict how this will go. The player clearly wants to leave, so I don’t know whether it would be better for Barcelona to retain him against his wishes, or take the money and let him leave. In any case, Tebas’ decision to stand firm improves his negotiation position, and it calls out UEFA.