by Tony Attwood
In an earlier piece about Manchester City and FFP, I asked: “How could they have got it so wrong?” Meaning, given the size of Manchester City and their obvious financial clout, how could the club have got themselves into a mess such as the one they appear to be in at the moment?
Clearly the people at Man City don’t like Uefa and its regulations. But why, given the obvious strength of feeling, and the run-ins that the club has already had with Uefa, what with its previous punishments etc, why has the club let itself get into the current situation?
Now, a number of people have written into Untold pointing out the dubious ways in which Uefa are acting, and how Uefa are clearly out to get Man City. I’m not 100% sure I agree but suppose I do. Did Man City executives not see the current situation as one that is likely to emerge? And if they didn’t, surely they are guilty of gross mismanagement and should be kicked out the club at once. I’ve never run a business remotely the size of Man City FC, but even in my modest-sized business operations, we included a forward planning operation, looking at exactly what changes in regulations and the law could happen, and which changes we should lobby for.
So I’m certainly not sure I buy into all the top people at Man C have said, but if I did, the question that puzzles me is how could a club as powerful and wealthy as Manchester City not have seen this coming? Indeed if the club does agree that FFP is in part (or even totally) set up to stop Man City from challenging the existing power elite in football (as many of their supporters have claimed in emails to ourselves, and elsewhere), why have the club walked into the current set up, and expected a level playing field? After all, it is not as if Infantino left Uefa last week – it has been clear from the moment that he went and Aleksander Čeferin came along, that life within Uefa might be a bit different for the rich and powerful from the old days.
And it is not as if the same issues have not arisen elsewhere. For example, the Man C v Uefa row is the same argument in essence as that used with those Arsenal fans who still get uptight about referees being unbalanced. As we so often say to them, “Have you not read any of the 160 game analysis?” and “What is it about the way that PGMO is set up and operates, that you don’t understand?”
With ourselves and Arsenal we have a problem. We have no power, and loads of people laugh at our accusations that refereeing in the PL is not as unbiased as it is presented.
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With Man City, however, the options for change are easier and clearer. They could, from the off, have challenged FFP in the European Courts. Or if they think that other clubs are happily breaking FFP regulations every day of the week, they could get their accountants to send the details to Uefa. And if that doesn’t work, just make all the details public. Or they could do what they think others are doing.
But the problem for Man City, rather like Arsenal’s problem with PGMO, is that the club has signed up to the deal. However whereas the PGMO deal seems to include regulations akin to those surrounding Fight Club (“The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club,”) Man City have joined the club, have known how it works, have gone along with it, but now want to complain. At least Untold Arsenal has been consistent: we’ve been exposing the weird ways of PGMO for 12 years.
And we’ve done that because this is how sport is run in Europe. In some countries such as Greece, there is a long history of corruption and battles via the courts. In some countries like Italy, there is a long history of corruption and complete public exposure of just how corrupt things can be. But England is different for in England, there is an internal set of rules which are not talked about, and everyone gets on with it, ignoring any statistical quirks, or organisational oddities that occasionally get exposed. It’s Fight Club.