- Why has Everton been hit so hard and what if the rest of the gang just say “no”?
- Everton deducted 10 points, next the legal cases, then Chelsea, then Man C, then…
It has been suggested in the comments to the last piece that “Everton were the easy target” for the League to have a bash it. Certainly. it would seem that in mounting their defence Everton called on fewer lawyers and experts to fight the case than Manchester City, but then the number of individual accusations against them was much smaller than the 110 or so that have been leveled against Manchester City.
What’s more some of the Manchester City accusations hit at the very heart of what the clubs are supposed to do. Manchester City are, for example, charged with not giving “a true and fair view of the club’s financial position”, as well as not including “full details” of salaries, not abiding by the “fair play rules” and above all not co-operating with the investigation.
This is very different from the Everton case where it seems that the argument there is primarily that Everton simply spent more than they should.
But that thought leaves Manchester City and Chelsea in much deeper trouble than Everton, for those clubs are seemingly accused of not just breaking the rules but deliberately and actively trying to hide their
For although an organisation (such as the Premier League) investigating one of its own (such as Manchester City) looks a bit like the old boys’ network (as in “well, we won’t talk about that, but please make sure it doesn’t happen again”) rather than a proper external inquiry into potential wrongdoing, it does allow the League to make the case that Manchester City and Chelsea are members of the club (The Premier League) and so should behave like club members, and basically not even bend the rules for their own advantage.
In such a view, “failing to cooperate” is a pretty big sin. For even if Manchester City were to be not guilty of breaking any rules, “failing to co-operate” would remain a pretty big black mark against them.
Part of the problem for Manchester City is that the people who, it is argued, failed to co-operate (aside from the 100+ accusations of breaking the financial rules) are the same ones as are now in control of the club – so there is no get out on the grounds that “the previous regime did it”. Chelsea on the other hand can use that excuse, but whether the rest of the League will allow that as a get-out-of-jail card is a different matter. I suspect they won’t because for most clubs, the chance of selling out to owners willing to spend as much as Manchester City, Chelsea or Newcastle, is remote.
Thus what the remaining 17 League clubs not under investigation don’t want is a multi-billionaire coming in, breaking half the rules in the book, winning lots of silverware, and then simply walking away. That is hard to stop but if the subsequent regime has difficulty in selling the club on, (because the next owner could have to pay heavily for the sins of the last owner) that could make big-time foreign investors who aren’t used to obeying rules, think twice.
So it looks more and more as if the Premier League’s other clubs (at the moment the 85% of the Premier League that has no investigations into irregularity against them) now see “It was the last owner what done it” as too easy a get-out-of-jail card, and so won’t wear it. And that change of attitude is likely to make some foreign investors wonder about buying a club for sportswashing or money laundering.
That is not to say Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan is quaking in his boots at the investigation that is going on into Manchester City, but the fact is someone will possibly lose face at the end of the inquiry. If Manchester City lose, then Sheikh Mansour might leave Manchester City claiming that the English are anti-Arab racists, and Manchester City will be left with a gigantic hole in their accounts. If the League lose then … well, that is pretty much the end of the Premier League’s credibility as an organisation that can run and investigate itself.
But it could mean that within much of the football world, and maybe some of the political and tourist world, the United Arab Emirates will have their good name ruined. Sportswashing will have been revealed as not such a good way of covering up homophobia and discrimination,
However within all this there is still another unknown: the independent regulator. Let us imagine that the independent regulator is, despite everything a) appointed and b) independent. What happens to the current on-going investigations into Manchester City, Chelsea and the Everton appeal?
If the Premier League look to be incapable of vigorous prosecutions of clubs whom the majority of commentators and those in high places think are guilty of multiple sins, then more and more power will be voted to the independent regulator.
But if in the three ongoing cases the League does take really strong action against Everton, Manchester City and Chelsea, then the regulator might be told to focus on things like the ability of clubs to “lose” annoying and troublesome evidence in the cases of children being harmed through not have proper medical support when training with a club, and pedophiles being allowed to work freely in the youth sections of clubs -as has clearly been the case in the past.
So what happens now could define not just the future of Everton, Manchester City and Chelsea, but also how football is going to be run in the future.
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