What might the rest of the Premier League do if Man C are found not guilty


by Tony Attwood

From the Arsenal History site: 11 years ago Arsenal needed to win the last game for 4th place.

It is perhaps a perfect reflection of where football commentary is in England that there is a lot on and in the media about whether Tottenham fans want their club to beat Manchester City tonight, or would prefer to let Manchester City win in order to stop Arsenal having any chance of winning the league.

In contrast, there is little talk about what happens to Manchester City if any of the 115 charges against the club are proven.  Everton and Nottingham Forest have had points deductions for a tiny number of offences – so a number of guilty verdicts could result in quite a punishment.  But equally, total vindication of Man C could result in other clubs leaving the league.

There is some speculation of course as with the headline “Football finance expert believes Manchester City will be relegated if found guilty of FFP,” and that indeed seems to be the growing opinion.  

Goal.com among others for example has talked of a points deduction or even banishment from the Premier League.  But of course because the enquiry is secret, none of us knows.  But let’s try and speculate a bit.

1: The tribunal agrees Manchester City has done nothing wrong or that the misdemeanours are trivial and should result in nothing more than a warning.

This has several implications, the most obvious of which are that Manchester City can carry on as before, and other clubs such as Newcastle United can follow the Manchester City model of accepting investment from oil-rich states.  Such states would also know that they could buy a club and seek to rival Manchester City via expenditure on transfers in a matter of a few seasons.  It is possible that half a dozen clubs could quickly become oil rich and then dominate the league.

That in turn could lead to other clubs who at present feel they have a fighting chance of winning the league, either to sell their clubs to other oligarchs, or consider an alternative world in which the oil-funded clubs play in their own league, while the rest continue in the current Premier League but without oil-funded clubs.

But this could well affect the Premier League brand where the fact that different clubs regularly won the league differentiated the league from such rivals as Germany where the same club won the league 11 times running.

2.  As a result of the not-guilty verdict the rest of the league revolt

In the above scenario, the TV companies would want to be showing Manchester City live each week, thus further reducing the level of income of other clubs.

In such a scenario it would be interesting to see what would be the reaction of the rest of the league.

True in the first 14 years of the Premier League only six different teams won the title, but that sounds like pure variety when compared with one club winning the league five times in the past six years which is possible if Tottenham don’t do the business against Man C tonight.  

Of course, many clubs have always accepted their position as being unable or at last very unlikely to win the league.  But to have one club winning it, and all the other trophies, all the time could well be a step too far.  It is therefore possible to imagine a situation in which the rest of the league clubs change the rules on funding of clubs.

The problem with that approach is that it would take a long time for it to have much effect on Manchester City and would be hard to monitor and bring transgressions to book, as the current case has shown. 

3.  A mass walk out

 So the alternative could be a mass resignation from the league in which Man C has been indicated and allowed to continue, and the setting up of a new league – just as the old 1st Division did in 1992 when the clubs did a mass resignation from the Football League in order to form the Premier League.  Except this time the new league would simply not invite Man C and other middle-east oil funded clubs to join.

That would leave Manchester City (and perhaps Newcastle United) searching for other clubs to play in Europe, and they would certainly find them in terms of other members of the City Group.  Barcelona would probably join in, as they are so broke they will go anywhere there is money.  Indeed Barcelona are probably actively promoting this scenario, as they have no other obvious route to financial survival, given that they are now living on the money from their future TV rights.  

This would not require all 19 other clubs to leave, for even if only ten left, it would be easy to recruit another ten to make a new FFP Premier League.

4.  Manchester City lose most of the cases against them

If however, Manchester City lose a substantial number of the 115 disputes then bearing in mind the points losses that Everton and Forest have got we can expect not just relegation, but expulsion.  When that happened to Rangers in Scotland, they were themselves totally broke, and so accepted a season of playing in the fourth tier of Scottish football, from which they worked themselves back up.

But Manchester City have an alternative to being banished to the Conference: the emergence of their own City Group league for them to play in across Europe.  And that might well be the solution that suits everyone.

20 Replies to “What might the rest of the Premier League do if Man C are found not guilty”

  1. I see Pep has come out and said that Man City’s success has nothing to do with money! So, it’s quite clear what his next job will be after he leaves City…..stand up comedian!

  2. I believe you miss one key point. These claims against Man City were made at least 2 years ago and as far as we know they are still nowhere near a Court hearing because of the delays by MC’s world class legal team.
    This is exactly what happened when they were accused and found guilty by EUFA when the Appeal Court said that the claims were time barred and therefore no penalties or punishments given even though they were found guilty.

  3. Mikey

    If Pep reckons Man City’s success has “nothing to do with the money”, why the **** did he spend it then?

    Over a Billion pounds nett spend and he didn’t need to spend it.

    To give himself back a bit of credibility maybe he should of added:

    “……so I would like to apologise here and now to the Abu Dhabi United Group for spending £100 Million of their hard earned money that I didn’t need to spend. I realise now that I could of achieved exactly the same with free transfers, cheap potential and more youngsters. I accept that spending:

    e117 Million on Grealish,
    e90 Million on Gvardiol
    e71 Million on Dias
    e70 Million on Rodri
    e67 Million on Mahrez
    e65 Million on Laporte
    e65 Million on Cancelo
    e62 Million on Nunes
    e60 Million on Doku
    e57 Million on Mendy
    e55 Million on Stones
    e52 Million on Walker
    e52 Million on Sane
    a50 Million on Silva

    was all completely unnecessary and by way of an apology I’m going to stay at Man City for 10 more years and do exactly the same on a zero net spend”

    Maybe he do from the stage of The Comedy Store??

  4. I posted the following on an older article but it’s just as relevant to this one

    Morning all of you. Bet today is going to be a long day for most of you !

    Rarely do I post on here these days but do still read Tony’s articles alas this one was missed when initially posted as we have been away on a cruise. Terrible weather and clearly based on my days being laid up with sea sickness I wasn’t born to be a sailor.

    Anyways on this article yes I am late to the party but want to add a couple of points to the debate.

    First the Rangers situation was not close to the issues facing Man City as they , Rangers , actually went into liquidation having first going into administration and had they been able to agree a CVA ( Company Voluntary Arrangement ) then almost certainly they would have not been relegated at all but, just as in English/ Welsh football any club re forming following liquidation has to find a league to accept them and in Rangers case they aimed for the moon but as Tony points out the clubs weren’t buying that.

    It’s not helpful or indeed really relevant to refer to the UEFA charges that ended up at CAS simply because the way in which CAS work ( under the jurisdiction of Swiss Law) and time barring in effect meant that the adjudicators weren’t able to draw conclusions from City not engaging with the process nor did UEFA really complete their investigations had they then it’s possible that CAS would have reached the same conclusion as UEFA but the arrogances of UEFA meant that they didn’t join or the dots which led CAS ruling that they didn’t find or couldn’t rubber stamp UEFAs decisions save those re not assisting with UEFAs investigation and that’s why City were fined and not re the charges regarding inflating income/ disguised equity.

    Without knowing what evidence the PL have it’s impossible to reach any informed conclusions but the allegations are far wider than UEFAs . Some city supporters ( including the supposed City expert) are suggesting that the PL have nothing that of course may be the case but without sight of the evidence we have no idea if the league have a smoking gun or indeed how the IC will draw conclusions from Cities failure to engage with the process .

    I to a degree have focused my view as to what will happen based on three core areas. The first revolves around the charges linked to the allegations around Managers wages not being accounted for in accord with FA/ PL rules similarly the allegations re players wages. The third around non engagement with the process.

    Save the non engagement charges which based on what is in the public domain pretty much seem to be fact the other two will be reasonably easy to judge and here there will be little to no mitigation should the charges be proven. A points deduction would be applied and based on both Luton and Swindon’s history and again based on the fact that these two clubs like City didn’t flag up the issues then there is a parallel.

    As I say we have no idea what the PL have nor how the IC will view the matter but it’s worth mentioning that CAS three man panel didn’t agree unanimously when they heard the matter nor is the way the PL is formed the same which could be key .

    I will throw in a simple comment re the issues that Chelsea have. The first is re the claim re payments made directly by RA well again we know little save what the press have reported backed up partially by Masters who has confirmed that an investigation is on going . I find it odd that it’s taken so long to conclude those investigations. The PSR issues again are well reported but like me all observers have absolutely no idea what Chelsea’s PSR submissions look like nor do any of us have a clue what, following RAS sale, what if any concessions the governing authorities agreed to.

    As for the sale of the hotels and indeed the alleged sale of the training ground the PL rules appear to allow these type of transactions ( as to if they should is a whole different debate) whereas the EFL clearly forbid such transactions and based on the fact that UEFA in their licence process only say that “ profit” must be excluded then I am far from sure that selling an asset based on book value won’t be allowed particularly as the FFP changes now in place tend to focus on squad costs , debt and overdue payables. Time will tell on all this.

    Re the latest article none of the clubs will give up membership of the PL for one it’s near enough impossible for clubs to leave the jurisdiction of the FA and that’s what they would have to do

  5. Well, they could get PSG on board and they’d have a EGL : European Gulf League…

    That being said, Tony, so what you are talking about is an ESL… which seemed impossible and in the end may be possible…

    Personnaly, I think City should be stripped of all titles as they’ve been won since their takeover as all of them have been won/contaminated as a consequence of their financial doping which was not within the rules. Same for the players and managers, which would make them and their agents much more cautious to jump onto the next opportunity without wanting to think about the ‘legality’ of the operation. They just took the money and were happy to be part of it. And were they found guilty, I hope a few clubs drag them into court with a damages suit.

  6. Tony and Mike T

    “Some city supporters (including the supposed City expert) are suggesting that the PL have nothing. That of course may be the case but without sight of the evidence we have no idea if the league have a smoking gun”

    Could you answer this for me.

    In ‘Common Law’, before charges can be made and a suspect taken to court the evidence has to be presented to The Crown Prosecution Service. From everything I have seen, and I admit it is only watching documentaries on TV, the threshold is very high before ‘charges’ can be brought, and the case taken to court. To get that far, effectively the CPS has looked at all the evidence presented to them, and is convinced there is a very high possibility of a guilty verdict.

    In other words the accused effectively ‘looks guilty’ the prosecution now just has the tricky job of proving it in court beyond reasonable doubt.

    Excuse my ignorance, but isn’t that where we stand with this? Or is it?

    The key for me is 115 ‘charges’.

    As I say, in Common Law, ‘charges’ can only be brought if the suspect effectively looks guilty. Isn’t that the case in Civil Law? If charges have been brought against Man City, surely in similar fashion to Common Law, they must ‘look guilty’ from the evidence that has been presented?

    Of course, I understand it still has to be proved, at ‘trial’ or whatever they call it in Civil Law, as it does in Common Law, but surely it wouldn’t of got this far if, as the City ‘expert’ says, they have ‘nothing’.

    ‘Charges’ have been brought. They must have something? 115 somethings in fact?

    Please explain.

    Andrew Buchan


    Indeed, ouch. I’ve heard him claim the same thing before, along with Many City fans who came here backing him up.

    I put similar to them and as you would expect the silence was deafening.

  7. Nitram.

    Hope you are well.

    There is a massive difference between criminal law and civil law. My Latin is basically close to zero but I think the wording is Onus Probandi. Burden of proof.

    In Criminal matters the level required is Beyond Reasonable Doubt whereas Civil matters, and that’s the level the IC will be applying is The Balance of Proability which is far below the criminal threshold .

    Bear in mind that City , from what is being reported have blocked matters at every stage indeed they even took their objection to the PL requesting arbitration to the High Court . They, City , were given short shrift . This matter revolved around the PL requesting information from City and it is assumed City have now supplied requested information but that has not been confirmed.

    I mentioned earlier about CAS operating under Swiss Law and CAS by virtue of that couldn’t make assumptions in the same way as is permitted in English Law in other words if City , and it’s no more than an if, City simply have not complied with requests for information made by the PL then an inference can be made .

  8. Mike T, you should post more often because it’s the most informative comment here.

  9. Mike T

    I am well and hope I find you so.

    So, as I understand it, and very broadly speaking, if City ‘look guilty’ and don’t show otherwise, by either ignoring accusations, acknowledging but failing to counter accusations, or by providing very weak explanations, they could be found guilty?

    If that is correct surely just saying ‘they have nothing’ wont cut it, because they do indeed have something. As I said, 115 somethings, and as such, if I have understood you correctly, it is up to City to demonstrate that all those 115 ‘somethings’ are indeed 115 ‘nothings’. Or have I misunderstood?

  10. If clubs do leave, do you foresee possible a UK super league where finally Rangers and Celtic may join?

  11. Nitram

    I am good thanks just getting older and more cynical.

    It is certainly the case that the PL have to prove the charges but having said that if city have withheld they won’t won’t be able to hide almost snubbing their noses at the PL . City are contractually obliged to let the league have any documents/ information requested but just like a jury in England the IC can draw conclusions from what the PL have and quite possibly take a view as to why City haven’t engaged fully ir as I say that’s the case,

    It’s a far from a simple matter indeed the length of time taken just in the investigation prior to the charges being laid was horrendous but just like any court case the time taken after a charge to the case being heard is often far more than the investigation.

    At the end of the day my guess is it will simply come down to if the IC agrees the charges purely based on what the PL but if City basically haven’t acted in accord with disciplinary requirements then no doubt the PLs legal team will be saying that city didn’t engage in the process because of what would have been disclosed

    One possibility is that the PL won’t be able to prove but if city have basically not fully engaged with the process then charges around failing to assist in the investigation may well be proven with the sanction of signifiant magnitude.

    Liken it to an individual who refuses to undertake a breath test. Without one you can’t prove that they were over the limit but the penalties for not providing match those of supply of a positive test.

  12. Mike T

    “Liken it to an individual who refuses to undertake a breath test”

    Interesting analogy, whereas I was likening it to a ‘no comment’ scenario.

    Or even the right not to give evidence because in doing so you may incriminate yourself?

    Whilst I was looking around I found this relating to Civil Law:

    “In relation to civil proceedings, the rule is set out in s14(1) of the Civil Evidence Act 1968, which provides that a person can refuse to answer any question or produce any document, if to do so would ‘tend to expose’ that person to proceedings for a criminal offence or criminal penalty”.

    Are they/could they hide behind that?

    I’m guessing not, because as far as I’m aware answering questions and/or producing documents is not expose them to ‘Criminal’ proceedings?

    The more you look the less you know!!!

  13. Nitram

    I personally would look at

    Section 34 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (CJPOA) 1994
    Section 34 allows an inference to be drawn if a suspect is silent when questioned under caution prior to charge and subsequently relies upon a relevant fact at Court, which he or she could reasonably have been expected to mention when questioned. Just because a suspect declines to answer questions, does not automatically mean that an adverse inference can be drawn. It is only when he or she later seeks to put forward an account or explanation that the adverse inference provision is triggered.

    Or indeed the next section

    Sections 35 to 37 of the CJPOA 1994
    Section 35
    Section 35 allows an inference to be drawn when a Defendant is silent at trial. However, this section prevents an inference from being drawn when it appears to the Court that “the physical or mental condition of the accused makes it undesirable for him to give evidence.”

    The court is required to satisfy itself that the defendant is aware that the failure to give evidence or to answer questions without good reason may lead to inferences being drawn against him or her.

    Whilst the IC isn’t a court of law it is run in accord with English law and yes you are right the more you look the less you know that why the KCs that will be acting on both sides will argue until the cows come home .

  14. Mike T

    Thanks for your help.

    I now know a lot more but alas I’m still none the wiser!!!!

  15. Nitram

    What I think our exchange has proven is just how many strands there are in the City case.

    On the face of it there is no smoke without fire but there will be so many legal arguments being thrown into the equation from admissibility of evidence to the requirements of City to provide information if they believe it is commercially sensitive

    Anyways good to have a constructive exchange.

    Be well


  16. There are rumours of a possible IPO for Etihad Airways in the near future. This would require audited financials to be disclosed ahead of the offering.

  17. I’m a Chelsra fan and found this doing a search on City’s charges.

    Firstly, what a great site and thevteplies have been really informative and intelligent.

    Personally, I think money talks and the Premier league is corrupt without question and I see City getting a slapped wrist and a big fine. Which will make no difference, and perhaps a suspended sentence which will be meaningless.

  18. You could be right, but as I have been trying to point out, what happens after that is the key. Do the rest of the Premier League clubs just accept it and go on as if nothing happened? I find that hard to believe. And personally I would say, if they do that they are being stupid. This beyond everything else is the bit potential moment for change.

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