Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City go head to head in the Champions League on Tuesday after a summer which underlined their status as the new superpowers of European football, and any possible restraints on their enormous spending could soon disappear along with UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules.
The story of PSG, City and Financial Fair Play (FFP) is essentially the story of the last decade in European football.
Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Mansour bought City in 2008, while in 2010 Qatar Sports Investments purchased PSG.
Also in 2010, UEFA introduced FFP in response to a debt crisis that was submerging clubs across the continent.
FFP meant clubs could not lose more than 30 million euros ($35.2m) over a three-year period if they wanted to play in European competition.
Rivals of PSG and City have consistently asked how the duo can be respecting the rules when they spend as much as they do, most notably when the French side splurged the two biggest transfer fees in history to sign Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in 2017.
PSG were not punished then, while City were handed a two-year Champions League ban by UEFA in February 2020 for FFP breaches when they were found to have overstated revenue from sponsorship between 2012 and 2016.
Yet the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned that ban. Most alleged breaches, the court said, "were either not established or time-barred".
That ruling showed the limits of FFP, and in any case UEFA responded to the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic -- with total projected losses of over eight billion euros -- by relaxing the rules.
Assessments of the 2020 and 2021 financial years would be done together rather than separately. Clubs are also expected to be able to register losses over the 30 million-euro limit.
Essentially, with cash-strapped clubs desperate, UEFA realised it no longer made sense to prevent investment.
"What they're saying is, put in all the money you want," says Raffaele Poli from the Football Observatory at the International Centre for Sports Studies in Neuchatel, Switzerland.
- Salary cap -
And it now seems clear this relaxation will not be temporary. UEFA is working on a complete overhaul of its budgetary rules.