Manchester City is a club used to hitting the football news headlines for all the right reasons, with the side from the Etihad being the dominant force in the English game for the past decade or so.
However, Monday 6th February saw the Citizens in the spotlight for more unwanted reasons, as the Premier League officially filed charges against the defending Premier League champions.
Potentially one of the most cataclysmic headlines of the season to date, this news was enough to distract fans from the latest Fantasy Football Tips, and punters from the Best football betting offers.
Over 100 Rule Breaches?
The charges brought against City come at the end of a four-year investigation conducted by the Premier League whose statement on the matter read, '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 to a Commission.'.
That “number of alleged breaches” is said to equal close to 115. Included on the list are alleged breaches relating to payments made to the manager during Roberto Mancini’s time in charge, player payments between 2010/11 and 2015/16, UEFA Financial Fair Play breaches between 2013/14 and 2017/18, and misrepresentation of sponsorship funds by the club’s owners.
City themselves seem confident of clearing their name, with a statement from the club reading, "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."
Not The First Time City Have Faced Charges
Of course, this is not the first time that Manchester City’s financial dealings have come under the spotlight. As recently as 2020, the club was banned from the Champions League and fined £25m by UEFA – being accused of misleading the ruling body and breaking Financial Fair Play regulations.
Upon referral to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), City were immediately reinstated to the Champions League and faced a reduced fine of £9m. The CAS stated at the time that, 'Most of the alleged breaches were either not established or time-barred.', essentially meaning that there was not enough available evidence and that the charges were too old to be prosecuted.
Unlike UEFA, the Premier League does not have restricted time-frame windows in which to deal with matters of this nature. Whether English Football’s governing body possesses the evidence to make these charges stick remains to be seen.
It is of course important to remember that City have only been charged at present and have not yet been found guilty of any misdemeanour. Nevertheless, fans of the club may well be concerned about the potential punishments which may be administered.
It is hard to say for sure exactly what these punishments may be, as much will depend on the scale of any wrongdoing. However, it seems reasonable to speculate that any of the following could be options for the Premier League.
The last two of those are not without precedent, but a fine or a docking of points may be the most likely scenario. Serie A side Juventus found themselves in similarly hot waters earlier in the season, with charges relating to transfer dealings seeing the club docked 15 points.
Whilst it is no more than speculation at this stage, such a points deduction would prove particularly damaging to Manchester City in the current season. Sitting second at present, five points adrift of leaders Arsenal, City would find themselves down in eighth, fully 20 points off top spot and ten points adrift of the Champion’s League positions, with less than half a season remaining.