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What Do UEFA’s Temporary FFP Rules Mean for Roma?

UEFA’s official FFP delays make squad continuity more important than ever for borderline-clubs like Roma.

UEFA Executive Committee Meeting Press Conference - 17th June 2020 Photo by Harold Cunningham - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

UEFA officially confirmed that all FFP deadlines for the summer of 2020 are put forward a year, averaging both the 2020 and 2021 windows as one. They are also (perhaps optimistically) aiming for all the Covid-19-related damage to the business of football to be managed by the summer of 2022.

Written in the simplest way possible: FFP now gives clubs a four-year window by which to break even by 2022, for one time only. This is a break from the usual consecutive three-year-windows by which UEFA clubs usually live and die.

What does that mean for Roma? Both individually, and versus the competition?

Personal Differences Aside, Petrachi Should Get More Time

“You know, when Khruschev was forced out, he sat down and wrote two letters and gave them to his successor. He said - ‘When you get yourself into a situation you can’t get out of, open the first letter, and you’ll be safe. When you get yourself into another situation you can’t get out of, open the second letter’.

Well, soon enough, this guy found himself into a tight place, so he opened the first letter. Which said - ‘Blame everything on me’. So he blames the old man, it worked like a charm.

He got himself into a second situation he couldn’t get out of, he opened the second letter. It said - ‘Sit down, and write two letters’.” - Traffic (2000)

Gianluca Petrachi, sporting director of AS Roma, looks on... Photo by Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images

This outcome is probably more wishful thinking than prediction, owing to James Pallotta’s character flaws. But, on paper, thanks to both Monchi and Gianluca Petrachi collectively, Petrachi should rightfully get more time to continue the job he started in the summer of 2019.

So far Petrachi has played more right moves than wrong, even indulging in the blame game by suggesting “mistakes were made” before him; mistakes that Petrachi was willing to believe the club had now seen the light over, and wanted to change its ways. Now Petrachi is finding out, just like guys before him, that Roma hasn’t changed her ways at all.

As long as James Pallotta is around, the root of the problem will always be there: Weak leadership at the top.

Monchi’s most extravagant signings should sort themselves out if Petrachi keeps playing his cards right: Patrick Schick will likely leave for a plusvalenza this summer, Javier Pastore had a deal to leave for China in January at even cost and may likely go to the US instead.

UEFA Champions League”Red Bull Leipzig v Tottenham Hotspur FC”

That leaves Steven Nzonzi, Robin Olsen and Rick Karsdorp as the lingering maybes of the Monchi era. But Monchi’s era was—crucially—the beginning of Roma running herself at break-even level, meaning the sober summer of 2018 has given Petrachi room to breathe in 2020, just like 2017 did for last summer.

It’s a step away from when Walter Sabatini was signing Juan Iturbe, Seydou Doumbia and running the club at -€50 million per fiscal window, hoping matters off the pitch would sort out the mess for the club.

Beyond that, Petrachi has no excuses left to blame the guy before him and will probably already be writing that second letter for whoever’s next in line. Some say Morgan De Sanctis is willing to step into the job, others still claim Roma can snag Atletico de Madrid’s superstar DS Andrea Berta.

But in ideal world it really should be Gianluca Petrachi still in the job.

As Max Leggeri summed up on the radio this week: “Yet again, a scapegoat atmosphere is surrounding Roma for fans to distract themselves from the critical reality: the problem with Roma is never who leaves, but who stays behind.”

It doesn’t matter which favourite Roma team of the last decade you loved, and who you wan to blame it on for not reaching “the next level”. That next level will never realistically be achieved with James Pallotta as Roma’s stadium-less* owner. Never.

.... Ever.

(*We reserve the right to retract this prediction if James Pallotta suddenly finds Roma a privately-owned stadium).

Roma Have A Shot at Continuity... But So Does Everyone Else

Gent v AS Roma - UEFA Europa League Photo by Erwin Spek/Soccrates/Getty Images

Roma may be able to spread her record-debts of this past spring over the next three to four transfer windows, but so will every other club around her. Atalanta, Lazio, Inter... all the rivals have been given breathing room to keep their respective bands together.

That means Roma will now be pushing, more than ever (if they weren’t already) to secure the permanent signings of Chris Smalling and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, since continuity will be a larger factor than usual towards winning games on the pitch in 2020-21.

We’ve said it before, but Mkhitaryan is the only guy (besides Javier Pastore) who knows how to rally the Roma attack into unlocking defences with the way he plays. Chris Smalling may have glaring flaws that would be stripped bare if he were playing at the wrong club but, at Roma, his style fits with Fonseca’s aims like a hand fits a glove.

Signing Smalling has given Kolarov a new lease of life, so it’s been like signing two players-in-one. Making Smalling and Miki permanent is crucial to Roma building on the work done at Trigoria, that began nearly 12 months ago now. Paulo Fonseca has made no secret over this sentiment in public.

The Competition Gap Will Widen Around Europe

Juventus v AS Roma - Coppa Italia: Quarter Final Photo by Massimiliano Ferraro/NurPhoto via Getty Images

FFP being pushed back a year might give some of the top-to-mid-level tier clubs like Roma breathing room, but you can be sure that bottom-half and lower-league clubs’ need to sell is as urgent as ever.

Just like Roma’s need to sell is still there, all the same.

It’s not that Roma won’t making major sales at all this summer (unless someone truly adopted a f*** it attitude among Pallotta’s inner circle that we don’t know about) but that it’s now a question of who blinks first.

As Petrachi himself admitted earlier last month, Roma are stuck waiting for the truly top clubs (those who continue to make a profit despite the pandemic-striken 2020) to make their first move, before Roma can react.

The most the Giallorossi can do is try to have her top talent poached to a lesser degree than rivals around them, while Roma swim as a shark in the waters of bottom-table and lower leagues clubs all the same.

Roma has spent the last decade fighting to be counted among those top clubs who could potentially break away into a European Super League, and that effect is only going to be more apparent in the 2020-21 season. It always makes Champions League qualification an even heavier hand in Roma’s short and long-term future.