How could Manchester City have got it so wrong?

by Tony Attwood

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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?

13 Replies to “How could Manchester City have got it so wrong?”

  1. OT Good to see the return ofWENGERBALL at the Emirates last night.

    Good show by the lads and a spat on the face of the WOBS who ridiculed Mustafi Xhaka and Ozil.

    One thing we should be wary off that inspite of the nice show we should keep in mind it was only Newcastle.

    Will we be able to play like this against bigger teams?

  2. Tony

    Great article and a big well done for being all over this for so long.

    You do realise of course, even with this balanced, well thought out assessment of where we stand, and where this all might go, you are in for some serious abuse from City fans.

    Like the Club itself, they either simply do not seem to accept they’ve done anything wrong, or failing that use the defence of ‘everybody else does it’.

    As I posted the other day this is a bog standard reply from a City fan when confronted with the reality of the situation:

    Mark L Roberts

    10/02/2020 at 12:43 am

    It’s a myth that City are:

    1, “State owned”

    2, have an “endless pit of money”.

    and in fact they

    3, have been self-sustaining for around 7 years now.


    I responded at the time:

    1: No it isn’t a myth.

    2: I believe we are about to find that, out and I think you’ll find you have.

    3: In a statement, UEFA said City “overstated its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even
    information submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016”. In other words not self sustaining at all.

    And despite this judgement they’ll still come on here denying everything.

    Great work Tony, oh, and duck.

  3. How could you have got it so wrong? Do you not realise what Cas is actually ruling on? Not the case, but the proceedure, which UEFA got completely wrong. They judged the case solely on prosecution and because the 5 year time limit was nearing chose to ignore the 200 page dossier for the defence,and constantly leaked its intentions to the press. If you care to research a little more carefully Platini has already stated that this was never an Uefa idea but was put forward by a number of the top clubs worried about the loss of earnings due to the rise of the Nouvea rich clubs. How can Uefa take the the moral high ground when both of the two men that subsequently brought this new ruling, since altered yet again, have dismissed for corruption. The hacker responsible for the leaked emails in now incarcerated, and they offered City a deal as the deadline for action approached. The real problem with Uefa and the Premier league board is that they contain members of the Elite clubs who can influence all their decisions. So far Uefa has handed out over 20 billion euros in prize money to these clubs enabling them to continue their dominence, what other way than INVESTING money in a club could anybody have broken into this cosy little monopoly? this rule was meant to ensure ffp, no way. it was also toted as to help prevent debt, well before the Abu Dhabi group invested a single petro dollar the biggest club in the world Manchester United were already 700 million in debt. their owner have taken 100s of millions out of the club. Please do not mention directors perrogatives, I live in Manchester and know exactly how their fans think about this. If you want football in Europe to continue on the nice litte roundabout was on then you are quite support Uefa fully on this. Yes I am a Manchester City supporter 71 years old have not missed a season for over sixty years, been a season ticket holder for 50 but am not blind to their faults. I have seen more complete F*** ups than any Arsenal fan that I can guarantee, however on seeing the improvements these owners have made not only the club and its infastructure and the local community I am 100% being them. It is amazing how popular we were with everybody when we handed out points to them, then like Del Boy with the watch we got lucky then boy did the vitriol start. Please do not pretend that you are behind Uefa, you just want your place back at the top table and as you cannot do it on the field of play then get the rules changed and hire someone from the corrupt club.

  4. Rosicky@Arsenal

    “OT Good to see the return of WENGERBALL at the Emirates last night”.

    I said the very same thing last night.

    “Good show by the lads and a spat on the face of the WOBS who ridiculed Mustafi Xhaka and Ozil”.

    Indeed. I was loving Ozil’s performance yesterday. But you are right. A big well done to Mustafi and Xhaka, 2 other gooners endlessly attacked by the media, and on the back of that way too many of our own fans.

    Again UA steadfastly stood by those guys and it was great to see them put in Stella performances yesterday.

    “One thing we should be wary of is that in spite of the nice show we should keep in mind it was only Newcastle”.

    That is true enough, but small steps. We have to be honest here and say that even at our best we are just not as good as Liverpool or Man City. To me they are a level above. But as for the rest. Chelsea, Leicester, Spurs, United etc, I have no doubt we are as good, if not better than them, and our results against them tend to bear that out. What we have been failing to do is what we did yesterday. Putting away the clubs we should put away. The clubs we are clearly, on paper at least, better than. We need to show that on the pitch, because as they say, you don’t win matches on paper.

    On a personal note. You were saying for a long time Emery should go. On the basis his overall points return wasn’t that bad at all, and it was still relatively early days, I thought he should stay till the end of the season and then re evaluate.

    Despite the fact there hasn’t actually been a massive upturn in results/points there is no denying the mood has improved dramatically. We also look far more comfortable defending and are starting to see the small shoots of the return of Wengerball, that I think we’ve all missed so much. The ship is turning and is at least heading in the right direction, even if there is still some way to go.

    In other words, you were right and I was wrong, the change was the correct decision and it may just save our season.

  5. Tell you what Nitram, isn’t “overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even
    information submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016” fraud ??? Now, as the son of a Chartered Accountant, a CA company must have signed off those accounts as being accurate … wonder what the Institute Of Chartered Accountants would have to say about that ?

  6. D Watson, this point has been put many times since we opened this discussion as the case against Man City began, and I have never been able to get to the bottom of it.

    You say that the CAS is ruling on procedure, but I don’t understand where you get this from. As far as I can see from following the case, and reading up on the process, Man City have the right to go to CAS or any other arbitration body that is appropriate, in order to appeal and they can appeal on any grounds they like. The court then rules on issues put before them by the aggrieved defendant and the plaintiff.
    But then you move on to what Platini said, and Uefa’s moral high ground. This are interesting points, but I am not sure what that has to do with the judgement.
    And this is the difficulty I so often have in this case – so many issues are introduced by people writing in favour of Man City which don’t seem to affect the case. To give an example, you mention that the hacker in now in jail. Yes. But that does not stop Uefa using the evidence that he turned up.
    And then most bizarrely of all, you end by saying, “Please do not pretend that you are behind Uefa, you just want your place back at the top table and as you cannot do it on the field of play then get the rules changed and hire someone from the corrupt club.”
    Well no, I don’t pretend anything. Perhaps I should say to you, “please do not pretend you can read my mind because you are no good at it.”

  7. Minesy

    I have no legal knowledge at all beyond the normal stuff we would all know.

    But yes, signing off accounts that are inaccurate, either accidently or otherwise, is surely breaking a law, even if done in ignorance.

    To of signed them off in the knowledge they were inaccurate is surely jail time?

  8. Ben

    RE Mr Watson.

    And despite what he infers, I cant say I, or any other untold regular has any real issue with City, the football team, or their manager, or their players.

    I myself have expressed my admiration for them as a football team many many times.

    None of that means I am obliged to like or agree with how they have reached the lofty heights they have.

    He says “we got lucky then boy did the vitriol start”.

    Vitriol ? Pot and Kettle me thinks, because Vitriol is exactly what is behind this belligerent attitude of theirs as was betrayed with his “cosy little monopoly?” comment.

    Lets have a look at what’s behind this ‘cosy little monopoly’ shall we.

    Lets start by going back to the time of Malcolm Allison when Man City were one of the elite, up there with Liverpool, Arsenal, United, Everton and Spurs.

    Then City messed up. They messed up big style.

    Over the next 28 years they had 22 managers. 22 managers for pities sake. Hardly surprising then that they went in to decline, yoyoing between Division 1 and 2, with their latest expedition as recent as 2001-2002.

    City finally re established themselves in top division in season 2002-2003, but only as a mid table side.

    Over this same period Liverpool, then United, with Arsenal chipping in here and there, had dominated Division 1 and the Premier League.

    Yes it is true Liverpool had money from Littlewoods but nothing on the scale of what we are talking about regarding City.

    Man Utd achieved their wealth on the back of title after title.

    Both those clubs had numerous successes in Europe.

    Arsenal have been consistent. Before the arrival of Wenger they still won the odd title and domestic cup. They flirted with mid table mediocrity at times and even relegation, but still to this day have not been relegated.

    Then Wenger arrived. Not a shed load of money, just a manager. Wenger and the Club, with astute management of the team and the Club elevated us to a super club. That’s how it should be done.

    That Mr Watson may seem like a ‘cosy little monopoly’ to you, to me it looks like a small group of Clubs that, for the most part, ran their business well, chose their managers well, and stuck by them when they knew they had a good’n.

    Being all bitter and twisted just because other clubs where ran well and yours was not doesn’t cut it.

    Just deriding them with your ‘cosy little monopoly’ doesn’t cut it.

    I know Arsenal EARNED their place at the top table, and I’m sure Liverpool and Manchester United fans feel the same about their respective clubs.

    Your club had every opportunity to do the same, but you messed up, live with it, and get that almighty chip of your shoulder.

    As for how you have broken in to this ‘little monopoly’, well, if you think being bankrolled to the tune of a BILLION quid is all well and good, that’s up to you, but stop burying your head in the sand and at least have the decency to take ownership of how you did it, and stop getting all uppity just because you’ve been caught bending to breaking point, every rule in the book.

  9. Tks Nitram for acknowledging my belief that Emery was not the right manager.
    Thank god we got rid of Emery. I dont know what part he played in disposing Kos and Ramsey. It was criminal to part away from those two loyal servants of the club. His sidelining of Ozil was another big fiasco the club had to face.
    Hope Arteta can revive the clubs fortunes but I still doubt he can fill the boots of the big man our idiot fans
    wanted to get rid off. I hope they have learned their lesson that there was no altenate to Wenger.

  10. Well, as far as I am concerned we’ll see if Mr Guardiola is half as good a manager as Mr Wenger was.
    If he is, he’ll stay in charge and win the 2 next PL seasons and then return to the CL having proven his talent is not only managing hundred of millions of pounds worht of players, but in building a team in normal circumstances (he’ll have a headstart when you consider the line-up at his disposal).
    I’m placing my bet on his leaving. Wouldn’t be surprised if Barcelona come calling with the mess they are in…

  11. As for the question : How could they’ve got it so wrong, I believe the answer lies in these words

    greed and hubris.

    Give them money, lots of it and a sense of power and they all come unhinged. Now, considering it has been at least 2 decades since everyone in business or at home knows that emails are forever, the discussions these people had via email shows how damn f…g stupid they are in fact. They put down in writing so many things that ought not have gone further then the bartop over which they were spoken…

    Believing that writing these things would not have as consequence that they resurface some day is just so mindlessly moronic. Not even able to protect their own sorry bottoms if their lifes depended on it. And they still get the respect of their fans, communities, churches, alma maters because of their title, position, etc. The worst about it is the notion that them and their lot are ruling our countries… what a terrifying thought that is.

    I just hope/wish that at some point, as was posted, someone is going to wonder whether signing off accounts knowing they were false ought not to be the prelude to a trip to a police station and what comes after, and send the cops get the persons who signed. But then again…us normal citizens are treated by a different set of laws then them.

  12. Accounts are audited and verified with the data given to the auditors. The accounts are always signed off by the directors of the company without any legal liability falling on the auditors.

    The auditor can only check and verify what is put in front of him. Only an investigative audit can ask for and look for data beyond what is put before them. Investigative audits are at the behest of the authorities when there is reason to doubt the integrity of the data provided.

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