By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger believes the handling of Manchester City's record-breaking sponsorship deal will be Michel Platini's "biggest test" as Uefa president as he tries to impose Financial Fair Play rules on European clubs.

City will receive up to £400million for a stadium-naming arrangement with Etihad Airways, a company owned by the Abu Dhabi government. The airline's links with City's owner, Sheikh Mansour, are expected to prompt an investigation from Uefa's Club Financial Control Panel.

Financial Fair Play rules dictate that clubs must break even over a three-year rolling period or risk being excluded from European competitions. City's deal has sparked concern that clubs can circumvent the new rules and Wenger understands why.
“It raises the real question about the credibility of the Financial Fair Play," he said. "That is what it is all about. They give us the message they can get around it by doing what they want.

"It means the Financial Fair Play will not come in. It is as simple as that. I can understand how they do it but it raises the real question – the difficulty and the credibility of the Financial Fair Play is at stake.

"Plus normally the sponsorship has to be at the market price if the Financial Fair Play has to have a chance, the sponsorship has to be at the market price.

"It cannot be doubled, tripled or quadrupled because that means it is better we don’t do it and leave everybody free. That can be defended as well, but if they bring the rules in they have to be respected.

“I don’t need to [speak to Platini] because it looks to me that he is very strongly determined on that. He is not stupid, he knows as well that some clubs will try to get around that and at the moment I believe they are studying, behind closed doors, how they can really strongly check it.

"That is where the Financial Fair Play is at stake and this is his [Platini's] big test."

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13 Jul 2011