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Watkins making sure FFP is right for ‘more vocal’ Reds

By Doug O'Kane, Sports Editor Friday 7th March 2014
Maurice Watkins

Barnsley chairman Maurice Watkins insists it is not a conflict of interest that the law firm he works for is challenging aspects of the Football League's financial fair play rules, which the Reds have supported in the past.

 

Manchester-based Brabners, where Watkins is senior partner and head of sport, represents several clubs who have asked for the FFP rules to be revised. He told the Chronicle: "There is no conflict. Barnsley Football Club will decide what action to take when the Football League comes back with revised proposals. It needs to be right for Barnsley."

 

FFP, which is currently being phased into English football, will mean that, at Championship level, clubs that make losses of more than £3million – or £8million if the owner has injected their own money – will face punishments such as transfer embargoes and fines.

 

Barnsley's chief executive Ben Mansford and his predecessor Don Rowing have both highlighted the club's commitment to FFP – as did previous managers Keith Hill and David Flitcroft – and they all saw it as a way of levelling the playing field for a club competing against far richer rivals.

 

But the Chronicle understands that there is a feeling around many clubs, such as Barnsley, that the details of FFP have changed since the majority of Football League members, including the Reds, voted for it in April 2012. For example, the original document stated that any fines imposed on clubs that break the rules would be shared out among the clubs that did not. But now, after apparent intervention from the premier league, it is proposed that the money will go to charity in one of many changes to the initial rules.

 

One of the other areas of concern is whether it is right that, if a club like Barnsley were to be bought by a wealthy owner who wants to put their own money in, they should be stopped from doing so. Watkins refused to comment on such a scenario but added: "Financial fair play is a major talking point at the moment and I am making sure that Barnsley's voice is heard when the clubs discuss it and that it works for the club.  When I became chairman last year I said I would make sure Barnsley's voice was heard by the authorities and that is what I am doing.

 

"For Barnsley to make a profit in recent seasons is fantastic and I was attracted to the club because of how well it has been run. The owner Patrick Cryne deserves credit."

 

See page 21 of today's Chronicle for a Maurice Watkins column.