Home Sports Man City might be punished after League’s financial investigation

Man City might be punished after League’s financial investigation

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The Premier League found “a number of alleged breaches” in Manchester City’s financial records, but there are steps to be taken before any punishment.

Four years of Premier League digging into Manchester City’s finances culminated in a February 6 announcement that the club had allegedly acted improperly on multiple occasions by skirting regulations.

In essence, Man City have been accused of gaining an unfair advantage over other clubs under the ownership of City Football Group. The punishments for that could be harsh.

But the end of this saga has not yet arrived, and GOAL explains the timeline of what may follow for Manchester City, including potential punishments for alleged breaches of financial rules.

The club has been accused of breaching Premier League rules more than 100 times between 2009 and 2018, a time period directly following the 2008 takeover led by Sheikh Mansour of the Abu Dhabi United Group.

Specifically, they allegedly failed to provide accurate financial information to the Premier League, misleading regulators about its revenue including its sponsorship income and operating costs. There were alleged discrepancies found in how much Manchester City paid manager Roberto Mancini from 2009-13 and various players from 2010-16 – salary figures they are required to report to the league. There are also charges that Manchester City ran afoul of Premier League rules on profitability and sustainability from 2015-18.

The scope of the investigation goes beyond domestic action; the Premier League determined that Manchester City may have broken UEFA Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules from 2013-18. Previously, however, a UEFA ban from European competitions was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. A €10 million fine was still assessed.

“In accordance with Premier League Rule W.82.1, the Premier League confirms that it has today referred a number of alleged breaches of the Premier League Rules by Manchester City Football Club (Club) to a Commission under Premier League Rule W.3.4.,” the Premier League said in a statement.

Manchester City, who have won six Premier League titles under current ownership, denied all charges brought by the Premier League after the four-year investigation.

“Manchester City is surprised by the issuing of these alleged breaches of the Premier League Rules, particularly given the extensive engagement and vast amount of detailed materials that the EPL has been provided with,” the club wrote in response to the allegations.

“The club welcomes the review of this matter by an independent commission, to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence that exists in support of its position.

“As such we look forward to this matter being put to rest once and for all.”

The matter is far from over, and could drag on for months if not years.

After publishing their findings, the Premier League has referred Manchester City to an independent commission that will determine any punishments. Crucially, the club will not be able to appeal the decision of that commission to the Court of Arbitration for Sport like it did with UEFA’s findings.

Hearings with the 15-member commission, appointed by the Premier League’s judicial panel, will be held privately and are confidential. The judicial panel consists of sitting or retired judges, attorneys and football administrators.

There is no firm timetable on when any decisions by the commission will be made.

The Premier League report did not identify the punishments Manchester City could receive if the independent panel takes action against the club.

However, there are already a list of permissible punishments that independent commissions can levy for rule violations listed in the Premier League bylaws.

Based on the handbook, pretty much everything is on the table if the Premier League’s findings are backed up by the commission.

According to section W.51.4 of the Premier League’s official rules and regulations, the following sanctions are possible:

  • A fine of unlimited quantity
  • Suspension of a club from playing in league matches, with an unlimited timeframe
  • Point deductions
  • Replays of past matches
  • Permanent expulsion

The kicker, though, underlines the power of the commission:

  • Make any such other order as the commission sees fit

It’s obvious, then, why there are doomsday reports floating about in regards to Manchester City. Unlike the UEFA punishments that were mostly struck down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, there is no such external fallback here.

But it’s important to note that the above allowances for the commission are general and nobody in a position of power in this specific investigation has offered a hint at how much, if at all, Manchester City will be punished. There simply isn’t enough information yet to determine how the independent panel will rule.

Even without the investigation, there have been suggestions that Guardiola is nearing the end of his tenure. He signed a two-year contract extension in November, but that only temporarily alleviated fears he could depart.

“The moment I feel something is wrong, I will resign or not renew my contract,” Guardiola said last month. “I will not stay as [Sir Alex] Ferguson or [Arsene] Wenger did. The contract is just a piece of paper. I extended my commitment to the club because I feel the team can still do well under my leadership. In the end, it’s all about the results. If we get tired of each other, I’m not going to stay until the end because of the contract.”

Manchester City trail Arsenal in the 2022-23 Premier League title race, and Guardiola’s frustration has been increasingly apparent, most notably in his controversial statement claiming he didn’t care how the team finished this year and in his recent his swipe at fans.

He’s also always said that a breakdown in trust over Manchester City’s financial dealings could accelerate his exit.

“I said to our people ‘tell me’ about the suspicions,” Guardiola said last year. “I looked at them and believed them 100 per cent from day one so I defended the club because of that.”

There will be an immediate wave of questions posed to Guardiola and his team about the Premier League’s allegations, plus speculation about the manager’s future until he reaffirms his commitment to the project as the investigation progresses.

A period of extended quiet may follow, though, as the independent commission will deliberate behind closed doors for an indefinite period over how to handle the club.

In the meantime, Manchester City will try to chase down Arsenal for this year’s Premier League title and win the Champions League for the first time under Guardiola.


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