17 Oct 2023

Bogdan Gecić Talked About FSR with Brussels Signal

Bogdan Gecić, the Founding Partner of Gecić Law, recently spoke with journalist Paddy Bolton.  He was thereafter quoted in a Brussels Signal article regarding the EU’s Foreign Subsidies regulation (FSR) and its application in football.  Spain’s top football division has filed a complaint with the European Commission (EC) against France’s Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).  They argue that PSG’s funding from Qatar violates the EU’s rules on foreign subsidies.  Similarly, Belgian football club Royal Excelsior Virton has raised objections about Lommel SK, which receives Abu Dhabi funds.

The Foreign Subsidies Regulation (FSR) and Football

These interventions come after the EU’s FSR came into force on October 12.  This regulation mandates entities to inform the EC about any large foreign financial contributions involved in procurement or merger transactions.  The EC also has the authority to probe into other forms of overseas state support.

Several football-related complaints have reached the European Commission, pointing to a trend where clubs are leveraging the FSR.  Football could be a prime sector for such regulations since clubs without non-EU state support may face marginalization.  Some experts believe the EC is understaffed concerning FSR matters and might not prioritize football-related cases.  However, the increasing number of complaints might force them to act.  Given the public’s familiarity with football, they believe the Commission could use this as an opportunity for positive PR.

Bogdan commented on the matter, saying that, more broadly, as with any new tool, the FSR was “a First Generation project” and “lacks a lot of fine-tuning”.  The EC will “need to resolve this as it goes”, and “we can expect a fair amount of legal challenges and a lot of work for lawyers”, he added.  Even in the early days of FSR, Brussels has already scored an own goal, he argued.  While companies will now notify the EC of mergers and procurement bids that fall under FSR, “in the majority of cases, the wider public will never find out”, he said.  The case register “won’t show the deals notified under the FSR as it does with its usual merger control”.  This “will only generate more legal uncertainty, as though the FSR didn’t bring enough as it is, not to mention [issues of] transparency and third-party rights”, he added.

Click the link to read the full article.