How to punish Manchester City
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By Tony Attwood
There is a report in the Evening Standard in which it says that Guardiola has asked for the issue of the 115 charges against Manchester City to be dealt with as soon as possible. It is an interesting issue, in that it appears from all other reports that any delay now happening is due to the fact that the lawyers acting for Manchester City are going through every line of the evidence, step by step – which of course they are entitled to do. But it is slowing down the process.
And since part of the accusation against Manchester City is that the club have not co-operated at all with the investigation since it launched in 2018, it would appear that it is the club itself that has lingered over the matter, and is continuing to do so.
Indeed it is hard to see what benefit there could be to the League in taking their time. The faster they resolve the matter the faster any due punishments can be laid down. Also they can be warned of further punishments if they continue to do what they are found guilty of doing.
For Manchester City, however, there is every possible benefit in procrastinating. First, it is possible that some of the league’s clubs might get fed up with this very expensive case running on and on. There could also be new elections to the board of the League and the new board might take a different view.
Then again as long as there is no resolution, the club can continue to take in money and spend it as it has been doing, while possibly working out new ways of getting money through the club that will get around the Premier League rules.
Finally, if there is no resolution for four years, then even if by then it were to be found that Manchester City broke a lot of rules, and should be docked points, that docking of points will be for seasons now so long in the past no one will really notice.
Imagine for example that the club were found to be guilty for this past season of false accounting or other breaches of the rules. They might be docked six points, and Arsenal given the title – but it will be rather late to celebrate it.
Or what if the breaches for 2022/3 were really quite severe? Manchester City might be deducted 23 points, placing them in fifth, and thus outside of the Champions League. But by then the Champions League will be long gone, and Manchester City will have participated in it, instead of Liverpool who would have got in. Same again with a deduction of 25 points in 2021/2. That gives the title to Liverpool of course and they can put it on their list of achievements, but it would also raise Arsenal up to a Champions League position – except of course nothing can be done.
So continuing on without a resolution is very much in Manchester City’s interest, as the most that is likely to happen if and when they are eventually found guilty is that they will be told their titles don’t count. That probably would not stop them still claiming them, and really nothing is achieved.
Plus there is the thought that Manchester City will pull the same trick that they pulled with Uefa’s inept attempt to take the last case against them to the CAS. Although many outlets report that affair by saying Uefa lost the appeal, in fact the CAS simply ruled that they were out of time – and that happened because Manchester City refused to co-operate. As now. It’s one of the oldest tricks, but it is often used with effect.
We should also remember that a second complaint is that the club has refused to co-operate with the enquiry since it started in December 2018. It is, it seems, a regular trick of those running the club – they know how to operate the system.
Guardiola’s view is that he doesn’t want the “cloud” above his achievements although it is hardly a matter that is likely to hinder any move for him by other clubs. He won the league in 2012, 2014 and 2018. And if we, in a state of fantasy, speculate that the hearing does come to an end in the next few years, and that the appeal comes to an end a few years after that, the it is possible that by around 2030 Manchester United will win the 2012 and 2018 league titles, while Liverpool will win the 2014 title.
And so what? The clubs will be able to add the title to their programmes’ lists of achievements, and Manchester City could be asked to remove it from theirs. Manchester City might not comply. Then what? Will there really be any compensation for Manchester United and Liverpool? It seems simply being able to stick an extra one or two titles on the list of achievements a poor compensation for letting a club get away with whatever it has been getting away with, all these years.
Really the only thing that could work would be that if Manchester City were found to be guilty over a ten-year period, then for each of the next ten years they should have, shall we say, 20 points deducted from their total before they start. They could then pretend that hasn’t happened and print a league table without the oints deducted, but everyone else could use the table with the deduction.
And this wouldn’t be new. Loads of clubs have had their points deducted in the past – and that is what is going to make this such a test. If points deductions have been ok for the likes of Wigan, Reading, Derby, Sheffield Wednesday etc etc etc, why not Manchester City?
We’ll take a look at points deductions that have been employed in forthcoming articles. You might be amazed how many there have been.
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