SBD Global/June 19, 2013/International Football
Free-Spending AS Monaco Drawing Ire Of French Football Authorities, UEFA
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Ligue 1 Monaco "is living up to the principality's reputation for big spending as it prepares for its return to the French first division next season," according to Keith Weir of REUTERS. Bankrolled by Russian Owner Dmitry Rybolovlev, the club "has signed coveted Colombian striker Radamel Falcao" as part of a €120M ($160M) investment to "try to regain a place among Europe's elite despite attracting only a few thousand fans to home games at the Stade Louis II." However, the spending spree "has put the club on a collision course with French football authorities unhappy at the way it can use local laws to tempt top foreign players with tax-free salaries." Monaco also ultimately "risks falling foul of Financial Fair Play rules designed to force Europe's top clubs to curb their losses or face exclusion from continental competitions." Rybolovlev "has made it clear" that he wants a swift return to the Champions League. He is "following in the footsteps" of fellow Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, who "transformed the fortunes" of Chelsea after a takeover in '03. UEFA is "keen to ensure that notoriously spendthrift clubs move to a sounder financial footing and stop relying on the deep pockets of benefactor owners." A Monaco spokesperson said, "AS Monaco FC is aware of its obligations and will respect the rules" (REUTERS, 6/18