A Cook in the Books

Image Credit: 188361 on Pixabay

Manchester City’s recent charges by the Premier League may have untold consequences within the world of football as we know it.

The club has been charged with breaching the Premier League’s financial rules on more than 100 occasions over multiple years. If proven these would be the greatest offences committed by a club in the history of the competition.

The independent commission (appointed by the Premier League) will consider the charges and could recommend that City be expelled from the competition, suspended or docked points if it finds the club guilty. Those sanctions are listed in the Premier League’s handbook, but a commission is allowed to apply any punishment it considers appropriate.

The current league champions have been accused of failing to give “a true and fair view of the club’s financial position”, of failing to “include full details” of player and manager payment, of failing to comply with rules regarding financial fair play and failing to cooperate in a Premier League investigation that has concluded after more than four years.

We have seen this movie before though. In November 2018 German newspaper Der Spiegel published leaked documents alleging City beefed up the value of a sponsorship deal and deliberately lied to Uefa so they could meet FFP rules which require clubs to break even. Following the allegations, Uefa launched an investigation and ruled in 2020 that City committed "serious breaches" of FFP regulations between 2012 and 2016. City promptly appealed this ruling however, and a two-year ban from European competitions was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport later that year.

Last May, Pep Guardiola said he would leave his position as manager if he felt the owners had lied to him. “When they are accused of something I ask them: ‘Tell me about that,’” he said. “They explain and I believe them. I said to them: ‘If you lie to me, the day after I am not here. I will be out, and I will not be your friend any more. I put my faith in you because I believe you 100% from day one and I defend the club because of that.’”

Although City being kicked out of the Premier League is unlikely, a hefty points deduction should not be ruled out. Were that to happen, any deduction would likely apply to the present season  and would make a seismic shock in the current title race. Given it has taken four years to piece this puzzle together, do not expect it to be over within a few months.