by Tony Attwood
The first rule in business, for many people who run companies, is “treat complaints seriously”. The second rule is “deal with them fully and in a thorough manner”.
The reason for this is simple: the 3D solution (denials, derision and disgust aimed at the complainant) never work. I took courses on handling customers and the media because no matter how pure and correct the company is, there will always be complaints and bad publicity.
We always thanked customers for making the complaint, for bringing the matter to our attention, and for them giving us the chance to put matters right. And no matter how stupid or puerile the complaint we always treated it seriously, investigated and gave a fulsome explanation; fast.
Yet Manchester City seem to work from a different manual. They are accused of serious misdemeanours, and their response was to denounce the accusations, their accusers, and the investigations. They tell of an “organised and clear attempt to damage the club’s reputation” which either Uefa is part of, or has been taken in by.
Regulators in every business have a duty to investigate, that is part of what they are there for, and the fact that the main regulators in English football (the FA) is run by a bunch of bananas who wouldn’t know corruption if it involved the abuse of children, or sexual harassment or the misplacement of money, (oh, sorry, those are a real examples).
And Uefa has its accusers too – certainly under the leadership of Infantino. But they are the regulators and attacking the regulator when the regulator says the club has committed serious infringements, (rather than addressing the alleged infringement), is, to my mind, so utterly daft that it suggests those running Man City are not just on another planet but in another galaxy.
Perhaps it comes from the owners’ position of absolute power in their own country. Perhaps it comes from the fact that they see the activities of PGMO going on unchallenged and think they can take on the same position vis a vis Europe. But either way they clearly felt utterly and totally secure.
But the fact that there were NO PGMO referees in the last world cup should have been a big enough warning to Man City to realise that even Fifa looks on English football with disdain. And the new-look Uefa, since Infantino left and Aleksander Čeferin took over, although far from being pure, is certainly not Fifa Lite. Infantino is no longer there to look after Man City’s interests.
In the case of the current accusations against Man City, the club made it personal from the start. The senior academics, lawyers and politicians (as senior of the former Prime Minister of Belgium), that Uefa used to oversee financial fair play compliance, are not nobodies whose entire process of investigation is flawed and prejudicial.
And if it were, then one would make that case calmly and quietly in the appropriate hearing. To go public on day one as the Man City owners did, is so politically naive that it smacks of people so used to having their own way all the time, they can’t grasp this simple truth.
Even if everyone on the investigation and prosecution panel was corrupt, inept and/or stupid, saying so before, during and after the investigation cannot possibly be thought to be a way of getting a “not guilty” verdict or a guilty verdict but being let off with a slap on the wrist.
What all the big organisations I have come into contact with in my career have, is a board that includes people who understand the process of getting what the organisation wants, and then people who translate the demands of those at the top into action that gets the company where it wants to be.
Man City’s owners don’t like FFP. That’s fair enough, they can lobby and argue against it. But to fight it by fighting the whole of Uefa looks just plain dumb given that it is unlikely to work. For this is not about whether FFP is fair or not – it is about having a methodology of dealing with the situation Man City have found themselves in as a result of their actions.
It is a bit like a motorist being hauled before the magistrates for driving with an insecure load on the roof of the car, and then conducting his defence by claiming that the magistrates are unfit to hear the case because they don’t drive cars with loads on the roof, the law is stupid, and the police spied on them by spotting the dangerous load on a motorway camera.
All that will do is get your fine and number of points on the licence greatly enhanced.
But this is the Man City approach: to attack the validity of the court – and what I wonder is this: how could they possibly think that this aggression against Uefa would help them get their punishment reduced?
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