THE Qatar Football Association (QFA) will set up a Financial Transparency Committee to implement its new regulations across all clubs in the country as the governing body attempts to help them clear fiscal backlog and streamline their system in time for the start of next season.
Addressing an Extraordinary General Assembly Meeting at the Diplomatic Club on Tuesday, QFA President Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani said the committee would consist of representatives from the association, Qatar Stars League (QSL), Ministry of Culture and Sports (MOCS), Qatar Players Association and clubs.
“We’re working towards launching the committee. It’ll see the sponsorship amount provided by the sports ministry to the clubs align with their expenditure model. The idea is to make the clubs spend their money wisely, with integrity and transparency as core principles,” Sheikh Hamad told a full quorum of representatives from all 18 clubs.
A set of financial control regulations, based on which the new committee will work, has been established by a team headed by QFA Treasurer Ahmed Abdulaziz Al Boenain and it will be sent to the clubs this week.
A draft of the contract, to be followed by all clubs while signing coaches and players, was also released.
As per the regulations, clubs will have to act smarter in their financial management and ensure that their expenditure, especially on signing players and coaches, does not exceed the pre-season budget.
The MOCS will announce the sponsorship amount for each club at the start of a financial year and any extra money the clubs want to spend should be mentioned in detail in
the budget, with its source too identified.
Clubs’ financial performances will be reviewed by the new committee after each year.
The regulations, which should enable clubs to prevent their debts from piling up, have come at a time when Qatar’s sports sector is feeling the pinch due to the economic situation resulting from the fall in oil prices.
The frequent change of coaches and foreign players, who often have big-money contracts, together with financial mismanagement over the years have left several clubs, including former champions Al Rayyan and Al Arabi, with debts running into several millions. It even forced the QFA to briefly stop them from signing new overseas recruits last season.
In addition, almost all clubs have more than one case pending with FIFA after players sued them for delaying payments or not releasing dues on terminating contracts.
By opting for the Financial Control Regulations, the QFA is trying to clear some of the bad publicity Qatar has been getting. It is following the Asian Football Confederation’s Club Licensing Regulations, announced in 2012 to educate clubs to generate their own revenue and spend within their income.
It was European governing body UEFA which first took steps to create a level playing field by establishing the Financial Fair Play rules in 2011. They were constituted to stop the continent’s professional football clubs from spending more than they earn in pursuit of success and getting into financial problems which might threaten their long-term survival.
Qatari clubs have been spending huge sums on football, especially on first teams, but their business models have not been sustainable as they generate little revenue. Poor crowd turnout at the league venues, perhaps barring the matches involving Rayyan, has not been helping the cause as ticketing and merchandising bring in only a meagre amount. The big clubs often use their clout to attract mega sponsors, but low-profile clubs have struggled and cried foul over the uneven distribution of funds.
It might take a bit long for the QFA to set everything in order, but making the clubs financially accountable is considered as a smart move. It is indeed the beginning of a new chapter.