Former Manchester United Chief Executive Appointed to Head UEFA’s Licensing Committee

David Gill, Manchester United’s former Chief Executive, stepped down from his post, making way for Ed Woodward. Gill was appointed to be the Chairman of UEFA’s Licensing Committee, a position of considerable power in European football. 

The UEFA Licensing Committee essentially determines which European football clubs are eligible to compete in UEFA sanctioned competitions, such as the Champions League and the Europa League.

David Gill, Chairman UEFA Licensing Committee. Photo courtesy of AFP/Getty images.

David Gill, Chairman UEFA Licensing Committee. Photo courtesy of AFP/Getty images.

Gill’s newfound position of power was enhanced when UEFA announced this week that he would have the power to make recommendations with regard to UEFA’s new financial fair play (FFP) policies. Gill comes from a financial and accounting background, having first joined United’s finance department in 1997. Though Gill will not technically have the power to enforce or implement any FFP sanctions, there are sure to be more than a few who will not be happy with his newly given consultancy powers.

For example, there are two BPL clubs, Chelsea FC and Manchester City FC, who are both direct competitors to United, and are both fighting to keep their net losses within the 845 million euros across last season and next in order to stay within the UEFA FFP policies. Though no official objections have been expressed by either club, they would surely have something to say about Gill making any recommendations that would find them in violation of the FFP regulations.

Qualified though he may be to make such recommendations for UEFA, having demonstrated success in both the accounting and financial arenas, it does not change the fact that Gill is still vested in Manchester United, an active European club which is subject to the UEFA FFP regulations. He did not part ways with the club entirely when he stepped down as Chief. Gill will still serve as a director and board member for United moving forward, and has invested in shares of the club as well, compounding the conflict of interest inherent in the matter. The following is an excerpt from an article published on Daily Mail on Tuesday, which explains further the details of Gill’s involvement in FFP:

On Monday night, a UEFA spokeswoman confirmed that Gill’s committee will have an influence over whether clubs’ finances entitle them to play in major European competition.

This is despite that fact that the Club Financial Control Body will go through individual clubs’ finances initially to see if they meet the targets set by FFP. Gill will play no role in this part of the process.

The UEFA FFP laws are designed to essentially prevent clubs from spending beyond their means, which put them in unhealthy financial positions. There are many details beyond this that are a part of FFP, however, the main point is to provide a set of rules that will set acceptable levels of debt for clubs to adhere to in order to maintain a healthier financial balance.

Gill’s Club Licensing Committee, according to UEFA’s website, is charged to “draw up recommendations regarding possible amendments to the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations, including the review of current criteria and the creation of new criteria for clubs.” The recently formed Club Financial Control Body will still handle the investigatory and sanctioning aspects of FFP, but Gill and his committee will advise on potential improvements to the policies moving forward.

Though Gill is not the only member of the committee (there are 15 in total) and would not make the recommendations mentioned previously without his fellow members, it does not mitigate the conflict of interest at play here. He is an active director for United and has equity interest in a club that is directly impacted, either positively or adversely, by the decisions he and his committee will make. Whether or not this conflict of interest could be deemed meaningful or acceptable is up for debate.

What do you think about the latest UEFA Financial Fair Play news and David Gill’s involvement? Let us know in the comments section below or on Twitter.


Reporting on the business side of the world's game.