- The football sin of “failing to co-operate” and why the League went after Everton
- 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…
By Tony Attwood
First, where have we got to with Manchester City and Chelsea? We know that the claim by Everton that “in the same way that a tax accountant’s job was to reduce a client’s tax exposure, an element of his job was to protect or interpret PSR rules to the benefit of his employer,” has been thrown out. Which means no one – particularly Manchester City – can use that to excuse accusations of false accounting.
But thereafter, what if Chelsea and Manchester City are also found guilty? Chelsea won’t face much damage to its reputation, because the owner under whose watch all the alleged crimes were committed was kicked out after Russia invaded Ukraine.
However Manchester City have no get-out clause, and the good name of Manchester City is inherent in the plan by Sheikh Mansour in funding that club. Finding the club guilty will destroy the whole of the validity of the sportswashing approach.
Obviously, the Sheikh could carry on, but if his entire aim was to generate a good name for himself and his country it would seem to have failed, and he might just walk away. Especially if we consider the proportionality of the alleged sins of Manchester City and the proven (in court) sins of Everton.
Or the Sheikh could appeal to a higher authority. He has good friends running Uefa, and he might get them involved… But then if Uefa did step in and overruled the Premier League’s own commission, what then?
The Premier League left the ambit of the Football League and FA in order to keep more of its own money to itself by being independent. If Uefa says Manchester City are innocent or only slightly guilty, would the Premier League accept that curtailment of their powers? It seems unlikely.
As things stand the judge and jury in this case is the rest of the Premier League clubs, who absolutely loathe and detest the fact that countries can buy clubs and take them to a position where they dominate everything. So the rest of the League are probably not going to be very sympathetic to any post-guilty pleading by the club.
Then what? Such is the wealth of Sheikh Mansour that he could simply walk away and go and buy another club in a league liable to be more sympathetic. That would leave a gigantic hole in Manchester City’s accounts, and quite likely could put the club into liquidation. It would also challenge the status of Newcastle United.
But what happens if Manchester City walk away without a stain on their name and no penalty? How do the 18 clubs not owned by wealthy arab nations or individuals, then react? It would seem hard to imagine that Manchester City or their owners could just walk away… but I suppose they might.
Further, under the rules of the Premier League, its member clubs cannot take legal action on footballing matters through the courts of this country or any other country. So that route is closed to them.
Obviously, we don’t know what the arguments are in the Manchester C case but it is worth noting just how bizarre Everton’s claims were. In one point, for example, they argued that they had not taken legal action against a player who was arrested on suspicion of child sex offences. That case they said, would have harmed the image of football, and so they did not pursue it, and thus did not get the £10m in damages they could have got.
Everton suggested they had lost around £100m through protecting the good name of football and the Premier League, as well as losing a vast amount on player trading during the Covid crisis, and again argued this loss ought to be set aside.
Now these points are interesting because it is being suggested in some quarters that Everton had a decent case, and clearly would not have run up these losses had they not thought they were allowed to. And as an extension of that argument, that Manchester City are in a similar boat.
Indeed it emerged that the League had already made special allowances to Everton over its spending because of problems with their new stadium project. Maybe Manchester City have had such allowances made.
Seemingly, when the hearing decided they were guilty Everton then started asking that they should have a fine, not a point deduction which given the nature of their “crimes” would have been bonkers beyond the level that even football allows.£39.3 million – should not count as PSR losses. After all the League had already agreed not to include much of the cost of building the new ground in their calculations.
Could Manchester City be arguing along the same lines? If so it would seem that they are already doomed, given the way Everton have been handled.
But there is another accusation from Everton, which although dismissed by the hearing, might still be active. Everton claimed that the rest of the League knew they were in trouble over FFP and so whenever Everton tried to sell a player, clubs united in a dastardly plan to reduce how much they would bid for each player, knowing that Everton had to sell.
Could Manchester City argue the reverse… that everyone doubles the price of a player because they know it is Manchester City who want to buy?
But as the Athletic says of Chelsea, “they have effectively been found guilty of cheating.” And that is of course also what Manchester City are charged with.
But now we come to the big point. The amount of money that is in debate over the Everton affair is £124.5million. Which is a lot, but if trivial compared to the amount poured into Manchester City which has a net transfer spend (ie spend minus income from transfers out) since 2008 €1.45 billion.
Now that figure comes from Transfermarkt.com and is quoted by Statista.com and whenever we site Transfermarkt.com we tend to get emails saying this is an unreliable source, then quotes the Manchester Evening News which gives lower expenditure. We have looked into this, and given that the Evening News doesn’t give evidence for the source of its much, much lower valuations on expenditure than other established sources give, we’re sticking with the figures most writers use.
As for what the Premier League will do to Manchester City if the club is finally found guilty, Richard Masters did say in witness testimony, that for breaches of the type we are looking at here, the base point is a six points deduction with an extra point deducted for each £5m the club has spent beyond the allowed amount.
That may not apply directly to Manchester City since they are basically accused of false accounting and record keeping but we shall eventually see. But I still think that the most interesting issue that will arise is what Manchester City’s owners will do if they are found guilty. Will they
a) accept perhaps after an appeal
b) simply ditch the club and leave
c) leave, refuse to pay the fines, and set up their own new Super League with Real Madrid, Barcelona, and anyone else still interested.
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