Caught in a trap? Financial Fair Play Regulations and the case of Scottish football

Finlay Maclean, Renzo Cordina (Lead / Corresponding author), Martin J. Gannon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
187 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to investigate the Union of European Football Associations’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) Regulations in the context of the European football industry. This study seeks to explore whether these regulations are perceived by member organisations as contributing to the creation of a “poverty trap”. To do so, this study turns towards what are traditionally perceived as smaller clubs operating in smaller member associations and, in doing so, explores whether the regulations limiting benefactor payments are suitable for smaller leagues.

Design/methodology/approach: In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with key individuals involved in the management of Scottish football clubs. The Scottish context was chosen because of the disparity in revenues amongst competing teams and the limited broadcasting revenues achieved in comparison to some other European member associations.

Findings: FFP Regulations are perceived to be an effective tool for monitoring clubs and ensuring financial stability. However, the findings suggest that participants believe that these regulations consolidate the financial position of larger teams who rely on broadcasting and extant brand power for revenue generation. Further, smaller leagues demonstrate a lesser reliance on benefactor payments, and therefore, the restriction on benefactor payments inherent within FFP Regulations is posited by participants as holding little consequence and/or relevance within the Scottish football context.

Originality/value: Most prior studies on FFP Regulations have focused on generating quantitative insight into the application of FFP Regulations in large, resource-rich European football leagues. Through a qualitative approach, this study provides nascent exploratory insight into FFP Regulations from the perspective of smaller leagues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)584-601
Number of pages18
JournalQualitative Research in Financial Markets
Issue number4
Early online date28 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2022


  • Financial Fair Play
  • governance
  • regulation
  • poverty trap
  • football
  • soccer


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