- Girona and Manchester City: two clubs, two brothers and…. something strange in Spain
- After the Everton case what happens to Chelsea and Manchester City?
By Tony Attwood
Now we come to the postscript of my ramblings about the Everton, Chelsea and Manchester City cases in the light of the findings against Everton. I’m sorry if I have bored you stupid, but normal service will now resume… unless something else pops up.
Manchester City’s problem is that they are accused of a vast welter of breaches of different rules including providing inaccurate financial information, improper or unrecorded pay
ments to the manager, ditto payments to players, breaching Uefa financial regulations, breaching profitability and sustainability regulations and perhaps most damning of all, a vast array of claims of failing to co-operate with the Premier League in relation to the investigation. They could squeeze their way out of one or two… but if the got off all of them, that would make the League look utterly incompetent. I can’t imagine other large clubs having any faith in those running the league, after that.
Now this is very different from Everton, (see for example “Why has Everton been hit so hard and what if the rest of the gang just say “no”?)” whose case we have been looking at thus far, in that there is no dispute from the League that Everton co-operated fully. The allegation of failure to co-operate is one that could really cost Manchester City, because it is the defence of their position that has caused this case to take years and years to be finalised. That obviously is fine if there is no dispute and they are innocent of all charges, but if the defence is seen to be part of a plan of non-co-operation and delay, then that in turn can be punished.
So the scenario is starting to develop: Manchester City get off, and many clubs in the league will be mighty fed up with the league and its organisation. They’ll know they started this league themselves, and now it is out of control… so why not start another league, without any members of the City Group.
This view was given a boost within the Everton case where as we have noted “the commission in this case found that the general duty of good faith that clubs owe to the Premier League is a very high standard and trumps that.”
As the Telegraph says, “City are accused of misrepresenting their accounts for almost a decade.” That is a huge, huge claim and that is why the case is taking so long and why the rest of the league demand recompense and action. Yet it also means that there are multiple chances of the League proving at least some of these claims.
But more than anything else there is now established the fact that “the general duty of good faith that clubs owe to the Premier League is a very high standard” and it is hard to see how Manchester City can argue that they have followed that general duty, and yet come under suspicion of breaching the rules over 100 times.
Of course it is possible that this has happened, that Manchester city have shown good faith throughout, and it is all the League’s fault, but that is likely to be harder for the club to show, than it will be to defend their actions across 110 accusations. But if they defeated all those claims, the League itself would have no credibility. So another upheavel.
There is also the fact that already Leeds United, Leicester City, Southampton and Burnley are contemplating who they can sue and for how much to compensate for their relegations. They could sue Manchester City for committing the acts, but might actually sue the League for negligence as they prepare to sue for loss of earnings due to their relegations.
Plus with Manchester City there are even more clubs that have the chance to claim against them, because any club that reckons that through their own results against Manchester C or through that club’s final position in the table, they have lost out on merit money or a place in Europe (and remember that more or less means the top seven) or a place in the next round of the FA Cup having been knocked out by Manchester City, or indeed the League Cup, then there could be a claim. Think of the 2018 League Cup final for example.
Of course, any specific event might be ruled out by the technicalities of the case, but there are so many such claims sure some of them must be true. In 2018/19 for example, Arsenal were fifth,,. Without Manchester City’s alleged financial cheating, Arsenal might have come fourth and thus gained a place and a lot more money in the Champions League. Certainly, if Manchester City are found guilty of cheating in some way in that season we would expect Arsenal to sue them for consequential losses. Same with two other seasons in which Arsenal came fifth.
Now the league might say that it doesn’t have the resources to go back and sort out the other issues in the past, but there are so many clubs that are affected by this, season after season, that such a response could itself lead to a major challenge by clubs.
Take for example all the clubs that have been relegated across the years now being questioned. If Manchester City are found guilty of even a small number of the offences they are charged with, they will each of them claim that the points gained by Manchester City in the years in question, were gained through cheating and demand compensation for their lost earnings.
After all, according to reports in various media outlets, Manchester City are accused of 50 breaches of providing inaccurate financial information, eight breaches in relation to manager remuneration from 2009-03, 12 breaches in relation to player remuneration from 2010 to 2015, five breaches linked to Uefa financial regulations, 25 profitability and sustainability breaches and 30 of failing to co-operate with the Premier League investigation.
Thus as the Telegraph puts it, Manchester City are accused of misrepresenting their accounts for almost a decade. Everton’s breaches took place over three seasons and lost them 10 points. Over nine seasons that’s… well, it’s getting a bit bonkers.
But this brings us to another point: Everton co-operated, and will expect to see Manchester City punished for what is perceived as non-co-operation. Likewise as Chelsea referred themselves to the League and they too will expect to be treated less harshly than Manchester City if the latter is found guilty.
But there is another issue here. If Manchester City lose, could they go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport which bailed them out last time, on the grounds that the case against them was too old to be heard? I think they might, and would probably pull off the same trick again. That would cause uproar in the PL, and rather than the PL kicking out Manchester City, the PL would simply leave Manchester City and set up their own league, for it would mean that anyone with enough resources can spin out a case for long enough for the appeal to be out of time.
We can all imagine what Everton, the club that co-operated with the League throughout, would think of that Manchester City escaping the noose that way.
But if a way is ever found of proving the charges against Manchester City, then the financial claims against them over the long period which the cases relate to, will probably be far, far bigger than any punishments made by the League.
So in the end there is just one big loophole left: that Manchester City take the case to the CAS who order it dropped for being out of time. That is what won it for them last time, and there is every chance that might be their aim. But if so, and if they were to win, I think the rest of the League would simply resign and set up a new league, just as they did on 20 February 1992.
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