Last month, a story hit the sports news roundup that could have significant ramifications for the Premier League. That story involved one of the richest sports teams in the world and that they had allegedly broken financial rules not once, not twice but around a hundred times over a nine year period.
Manchester City are alleged to have done this between 2009 and 2018, a period in which they actually won the Premier League three times. This story almost felt like old news to some. After all, it was the same team that was fined £27 million and handed a two year ban in 2020.
This was overturned soon after and a fine of £8.9 million imposed but it now seems that more evidence of alleged wrongdoing has come to light. The Premier League’s financial fair play rules are in place to ensure clubs spend pretty much what they earn.
Clubs may find a loophole though by inflating how much they earn or indeed hiding how much they are spending, all illegal in the context of the Premier Leagues rules. According to the Premier League, Manchester City allegedly broke the rules by failing to provide accurate financial information.
It is further alleged that they did not fully disclose the remunerations that were made to one of their managers over a four year period and there are suggestions that a secret contract was in place with one manager so that he was paid more than was officially stated.
The Premier League also alleged Man City didn’t comply with UEFA’s financial fair play rules over a five-year period. They also allege that Man City have not fully cooperated with the Premier League’s investigation.
So how did Manchester City successfully appeal the ruling the last time? Well, that’s a simple one. Time. The breaches were found to have happened too long ago for UEFA to do anything about them. Crucially now though the Premier League rules do not include time as a factor so the club cannot use the same defence again.
It seems that Manchester City are in very hot water. So what are the possible ramifications for the club Well, they can be pretty severe and include a points reduction, order compensation, cancel or refuse registration of players (a transfer ban), removal of all honours won during the nine year period, and expulsion from the league as well as many others.
To say Manchester City are in hot water is an understatement. So what of other clubs? Well it’s quite possible they will want the book thrown at City. After all, if found guilty, it will be pretty clear Manchester City unlawfully won those titles and thus deprived clubs of a win.
It also had an effect on those clubs who may have been relegated as a result of losing to City during the season, us West Ham fans still vividly remember the Tevez affair and the financial burden having to pay not only the league but then Sheffield United compensation.
The ramifications are huge. But what of City itself? Well, expulsion or points deduction will severely affect their long term goals. Love him or hate him, they will be in danger of losing one of the greatest football managers operating at the moment.
Pep Guardiola has already stated that he will walk away if it is found that the club lied to him. Speaking in May 2022: ‘When they are accused of something I ask them, “tell me about thatâ€, they explain and I believe them. I said to them “if you lie to me, the day after I am not hereâ€. I will be out and you will not be my friend anymore.’
If Pep is true to his word, City could be looking for a new manager, and it has to be questioned who would actually want to go there. So what will happen? That, of course, is in the hands of the independent committee set up to review these alleged wrongdoings.
But if found guilty, it would not be a surprise to see City made an example of for those others that many things of conducting similar dodgy accounting scams. The money in the Premier League is almost obscene and there seems to be more money arriving.
There is more money seemingly arriving in the red area of Manchester pretty soon and maybe even in the east End of London. Rules are not for breaking and the Premier League needs to stand in principle that they believe this.
If Manchester City is found guilty, what point is there now to strip them of their titles? Do we really want to give Liverpool one more title and Manchester United another two?
The past is the past, but we should learn from it. The Premier League must set an example and if it means Manchester City joining us in the Championship next season so be it. It’s what they deserve. Corruption should not be allowed in our game and if Manchester City are found guilty, they should receive the appropriate punishment.
A slap on the wrist of a fine would mean nothing to a club that is cash rich but to take away those big match day games against the big teams, well that’s another thing. Owners of these big clubs are not in it for riches but are there for the glory, take that away and what’s left?
It’s time to bring some honour back into our game and if found guilty, the Premier League could just do that. So let’s wait and see but I hope justice prevails and if guilty, I look forward to seeing City in the league on a windy night at Bristol City in the near future.