The Chelsea Papers mean we now have two PL clubs under investigation



The crises affecting football

By Tony Attwood

I suspect that if any other part of British industry or culture was in the same state as football in England at the moment it would be considered to be in “meltdown” or at the very least “crisis”.  But as we have so often seen, football is different.

What we have at the moment is the long-term ongoing investigation into the finances of Manchester City, in which a club that has won 17 major trophies in the last 12 seasons is under investigation for having broken the strict financial regulations covering the Premier League at least 110 times.

Now in most areas of business or entertainment that would be daily news, but in football it has just been set aside while Manchester City continue as before with the media celebrating each new “achievement” as if there were no suggestions of anything perhaps being untoward.

Following this we have the new headline that Chelsea’s glory years open to scrutiny after fall of Roman Abramovich’s empire (that’s in the Telegraph)

So two clubs out of 20 (which makes 10 percent in my reckoning) are under financial investigation, while there is intense disquiet about PGMO as well (although they are continuing successfully to enforce the media blackout on stories relating to that hyper-secret organisation.)

And yet while we get headlines such as Chelsea face points deduction threat as Premier League investigate secret agent payments in the Guardian, we might wonder which of these three big stories – Manchester City, Chelsea, PGMO – the Mail goes with today.   Well the answer is Cole Palmer used to pretend to be Wayne Rooney in his garden.

I kid you not.  That is the lead football story in the Mail today.    As for the Mirror it leads with Gary Lineker confirms when Match of the Day contract ends after hinting at replacement

Now this is not just an issue about which story to place as a lead headline, but rather about a deliberate and very widespread policy to keep all issues concerning corruption in football out of the limelight.

Since it is a comparatively new tale we might perhaps spend a moment on the Chelsea case in which it is suggested that Abramovich funded Chelsea through “secret payments that may have breached strict football rules, including those on “financial fair play”.” 

The essence of this case is that tens of millions of pounds were transferred through offshore organisations which Abramovich owned into Chelsea, in such a way that they by-passed the normal financial reporting systems, thus beating the FFP rules.

All sorts of questions arise over the Chelsea case including the issue that (as with Manchester City) if trophies were won in a season where financial fair play rules were broken, is that trophy now forfeit?  For in the Abramovich years Chelsea won the league and cup five times each, the Champions League twice and the Europa League twice.  

Of course in both cases, nothing is yet proven, although the accusations are extensive.  But it could be argued that the Premier League is still lagging behind Spain when it comes to investigation, for there they actually admit they have a crisis – something that is resolutely not accepted in England.

Indeed as the Athletic reports there has just been a meeting of all of La Liga’s managers and the top referees to discuss what they acknowledge is the crisis in officiating in Spanish football.

This of course does not happen in English football because there is no acknowledgment that anything is wrong – and there cannot be because the English media has agreed with PGMO not to report arguments about refereeing in any way other than as reflecting an individual manager’s “rant”.

Obviously the problems in Spain are deeper in that Barcelona are accused of paying the vice president of Spain’s equivalent of PGMO €7.3million, while both Barcelona and Real Madrid are seemingly only surviving selling off future media rights to fund this season’s transfers.  

There might of course be similar accusations being made in England, but even if so we wouldn’t know, because of that agreement with the media not to discuss any refereeing matters in any way other than that of managers blaming the failure of their clubs on individual refereeing decisions.

Anyway the meeting in Spain apparently didn’t go well, as the manager of Real Madrid walked out before the meeting with referees even started having been lectured on the point that club managers and coaches should see themselves as role models in society.

However, Barcelona’s manager did stay to the end and presented what has been called a “belligerent voice” against referees in Spain.

Meanwhile in England, as Untold (uniquely I think) has been reporting there is a major issue brewing about the way in which the medical records of under 18 year olds are kept, and they way they can simply be “lost” if subsequent medical cases appear.

So yes, we now know about the financial and possible corruption issues at two of the most successful teams in the Premier League in the last 20 years.  If they were proven that would suggest that in 12 of the last 20 years the League has been won by a club using that has been (to put it midly) breaking the rules.  That’s 60 percent.

And yet no one is putting this story, and the complaints about PGMO and its secrecy, together to say something might be wrong on a slightly broader scale.

From a media point of view, isn’t that rather strange?

4 Replies to “The Chelsea Papers mean we now have two PL clubs under investigation”

  1. What about Everton and Newcastle whose owners own not one but four Saudi clubs and are looking to lo

    Thean top players to Newcastle therefore bypassing FFP regulations.

  2. Stephen I am not sure how you can prove that one league is the worst, but the key point is that there is growing evidence that there is something wrong, and that the media together will simply not consider even the possibility that there is something wrong. In most cases they are very quick to consider something might be wrong – for example with the police, or with the government, or with schools…. but not with football.

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