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October 2020
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Man City take on the whole of European football

By Tony Attwood

The appeal by Manchester City to Committee for Arbitration in Sport against Uefa is surely one of the key pivotal moments in modern football, the outcome of which will be as important and far reaching as the decision by the FA to ban women’s football in 1921, and Uefa’s ban on English clubs in European competitions in 1985.

For this appeal is not just on technical issues or points of law, but it relates to the way Manchester City have responded to Uefa’s investigation into their financial affairs.  The threat made to bring Uefa down by challenging it in every court in Europe until its funding runs out is unprecedented in football and at least thus far, is unique in football.

Manchester City have already lost one appeal – that against the validity and procedures of Uefa’s case in November.  And it was that appeal that led to the current problem because if CAS refutes what Man City say is irrefutable we are back to Man City not accepting the judgement of the court.

One way or another someone is going to lose: either Manchester City will have been told that they cannot challenge the authority of Uefa, or Uefa will have seen their authority so undermined, given what Man City have said, it is unlikely that FFP will survive and Uefa will be left with no credibility in the eyes of smaller clubs.

But it isn’t just the issue of the rights and wrongs, it is the attitude of Manchester City against Uefa that raises the questions, and which resulted in nine of the other top ten clubs in the Premier League writing to the CAS to inform them of the damage to Uefa and the rule of law within football, if the appeal is accepted.

Yet despite all the background noise, in essence the case ought to be simple: Man City were found by Uefa to have overstated sponsorship revenue across a four year period (2012-16).  That is a long period, and one that suggests a consistent attempt to undermine the whole process of FFP, rather than just gain a short term advantage or a simple accounting error.

The hearing is being held via video, and is scheduled to close Wednesday evening but no verdict will be released immediately after the hearing. The decision “could be made during the month of July,” said Matthieu Reeb, secretary general of the CAS.

If Manchester City lose they might see through their threat to bring down Uefa, but it is more likely that they will go to the Federal Court, which also sits in Lausanne for a further appeal.

There is precedent in the case as AC Milan was excluded for one season in June 2019 from the Europa League for financial inconsistencies of a much smaller degree in one season – they were banned from the Europa League.

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If found guilty Man City would lose their share of broadcasting rights, and income from sponsors which is reflected in their ability to play in the Champions League year after year – a severe blow to the club.  Which is why if the two year suspension is confirmed the club has vowed to bring down Uefa.  If the penalty is reduced to one year then FFP survives but is seriously weakened since it is difficult to imagine a case in which there is more evidence of manipulation of the rules than this one.  If Manchester City get off then FFP is dead and buried as no case has ever had more evidence presented against a club than this.  It will be a financial free for all and the oil-sponsored clubs will win.

But still, the central problem is the Manchester City statement released after the first hearings which spoke of “flawed” processes, “consistently leaked” discussions, a “prejudicial” process, and a total bias by Uefa.  If Man City win, it is hard to see how Uefa deals with that, when there are other financial giants such as Real Madrid waiting in the wings to spend as much as they want.

It will also show Saudi Arabia, if it manages to get control of Newcastle, what it can get away with.

But there is also the issue of the Manchester City attack on the former Belgian prime minister Yves Leterme, claiming that in December 2018, he “publicly previewed the outcome and sanction he intended to be delivered, before any investigation had even begun”.

Alleging in public rather than in the hearing’s proceedings that Uefa’s team of investigators acted improperly showed a magnitude of disrespect for European football’s governing body which made others uneasy.  The view elsewhere seems to be that Uefa is not perfect but of late it has been something of a bulwark against a continuously corrupt Fifa.

The decision by the British media to withdraw from any commentary on what is happening with Fifa at the moment in the Swiss courts has undoubtedly supported Manchester City’s position from the perspective of the English reader, but of course the hearing is in Europe, where knowledge of Fifa’s current difficulties are daily reading.  If Uefa is shown to have been corrupt in its dealings with Man City, Fifa will feel liberated as never before.

What’s more, the fact is that most clubs in Europe are in favour of FFP, as given that imbalances between clubs are still there, and oil-rich states in the middle east are increasingly using football as their proxy battlefield (something that the English media has only recently become aware of with the highlighting of the activities of the BeOutQ TV stations which decode encoded TV signals for viewers across the region and north Africa.)

What worries clubs across Europe is that Manchester City, having been granted vast amounts of money from outside football, have been particularly active in demanding more of the available money for the top six clubs, (there was a detailed report on this in the Guardian on 2 June 2018).

But most of all what everyone is looking to see is whether Manchester City make more of their allegations that Uefa processes are flawed, its officials prejudiced, for reasons unexplained.  And this is where so much attention is now focused.   City stated that “the Uefa Chief Investigator … publicly previewed the outcome and sanction he intended to be delivered, before any investigation had even begun”. The  process was so biased process that there was “little doubt in the result that he would deliver” and that “this is a case initiated by Uefa, prosecuted by Uefa and judged by Uefa”.

That is the core of the issue.  Can one club challenge the entire process of Uefa, and discredit its chief investigator?  It is like one of us going into a High Court hearing and claiming the judge is bent and British justice and the trial by jury system is based on wholly false premises, and the court saying “Fair enough, we give up.”

So in the end what this comes down to is, did Manchester City lie when reporting its sponsorships or has Uefa set up a court system which it itself has abused?

The fact is that the body which heard the original charges against Man City was not made up of local football officials with no experience.  The hearing was chaired by a former general prosecutor in Portugal who agreed with the other members of the hearing, a Dutch law professor, a highly experienced Swiss judge, a former Polish sports minister and an English QC who is also director of Dubai’s financial services authority.

Whatever the outcome of the hearings today, these allegations are unlikely to be forgotten.  For no matter what the result, the people who made these allegations will still be there, and so will the people they have so vigorously accused.

As a result of this case, something has to give.

 

 

 

22 comments to Man City take on the whole of European football

  • mario maggiore

    You are always so blinkered and bitter about City on this site, you say there is a mountain of evidence and yet all we’ve seen is leaked emails ‘allegedly’ from City from a guy whose currently facing extortion and hacking charges throughout Europe that were published in the German equivalent of the Sun that are backed By not only Bayern Munich(tax dodging and actual criminals) and Friday who own Liverpool… Not what I’d call unbiased…

  • mario maggiore

    Fenway *

  • Nitram

    Jeeeez, here they come again. The moment anyone has the audacity to question anything Man City do they are accused of being ‘bitter’ or jealous or some other insult that infers that somehow we ALL just want to be like them.

    As I have pointed on here on numerous occasions, a club run like a back street market stall for over 40 years suddenly gets bailed out by one of the most distasteful regimes in the World, and we’re all supposed to sit back and admire them as they run rough shod over every rule that doesn’t quite fit their agenda of simply buying their way to World domination.

    I ask you, who the f*** would want to be like them ?

    Honestly the sheer arrogance of these City fans is mind boggling.

  • Wenger warned about fifa and uefa not taking ffp seriously years ago – but was ignored completely.
    As a club, we played by the rules and that is the reason why I want to see the evidence of any wrong doing.

    It’s not the supporters, the players or the back room staff who fans are angry with, its the owners of the club – and that seems to be the point that City fans just don’t seem to understand.

  • Mikey

    @ mario

    So we’re all “blinkered and bitter” about City being charged with breaking the rules and ending up in court over it; but City fans are completely objective and unbiased about their club buying everything that moves so as to take away any true competition from the game. Thanks for putting us straight on that.

  • Mario, that is a rather strange accusation. The site openly proclaims itself to be Arsenal. Which means we are biased. How could you ever think we claimed anything else?

  • Lima, the same as always. The way Arsenal has won the league is through a few modest purchases, either of youngsters or players who were not making it elsewhere but could. That is how Wenger did it. Spending a fortune has rarely worked for Arsenal, and I doubt that it will now.

  • There are numerous inaccuracies in this report/stinker. You state that “Manchester City have already lost one appeal…”. City didn’t lose the appeal, it was dismissed because CAS stated that an appeal could not be made against a judgement that hadn’t yet been disclosed so it’s somewhat disingenuous to state we’ve already “lost an appeal”.

    You also state “…which resulted in nine of the other top ten clubs in the Premier League writing to the CAS to inform them of the damage to Uefa and the rule of law within football, if the appeal is accepted.” Not true, Sheffield United didn’t write to CAS. Seriously, Tony, if you’re going to write in detail about detailed matters, then get the detail right! Besides, you don’t give due consideration to the thinking *behind* that letter. Not that much thinking is required because the stench of self interest overwhelms everything else. Furthermore, who the hell do those clubs actually think they are? Do they ACTUALLY BELIEVE they have the right to warn CAS that a Not Guilty verdict isn’t acceptable? Astonishing.

    Then, there is the timing of the charges. Terribly inconveniently, UEFA ran out of time to charge PSG…including Nasser Al-Khelaïf as Chairman and CEO of PSG. He was appointed to the UEFA Executive Committee as a full member in his capacity as an ECA representative in February 2019. He is also the chairman of beIN Media Group, who have the contract for live Champions League television. He is a Qatari businessman. How embarrassed would UEFA be if PSG were then seen to be breaking FFP? Anyone that investigation was canned because UEFA ‘ran out of time’s but saw fit to charge City on the very last day they could before the statutes of limitations kicked in.

    Shocker.

    However, according to the Guardian on Thu 20 Feb 2020, “Swiss prosecutors charge PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi in Fifa bribery case”.

    THEN, we also have news that Facebook has shut down dozens of accounts dedicated to disinformation and the blackening of City’s name in India. The trail of which leads to….yes, you guessed, Qatar.

    So, Tony, your rather pathetic whining about City being not nice to UEFA takes on a whole new shine when set in context, doesn’t it? It doesn’t matter how ‘nice’ City were, UEFA were always determined to see City as guilty. The geopolitical background assures it and the general way City have been treated by UEFA for the last ten years, assures it. So, we’ll stick up for ourselves and wish it right back at them.

    Have to say, Tony, I’m disappointed in your article. The bias and lack of insight has produced a thin, unsatisfying, read that only the dullards amongst your readership could take, as gospel. Your writing used to be so much better

  • Mikey.

    We’ve bought everything that moves? Like what?

  • Nitram.

    We’re not arrogant, we just wish to defend ourselves against wild, outlandish, statements. If opposition fans didn’t throw all sorts of absurdly untrue statements around, we wouldn’t be here…to defend ourselves, would we?

  • Lima

    What about what Liverpool is doing, I can’t remember you giving them credit for how they’ve gone about getting where they are. Infact you’ve accused them joining the likes of man city and buying their way to the top. With a net spend half of arsenal’s, are you gonna apologize?

  • Without going into the notion of what I have written about Liverpool, the notion that I should apologise if I get something wrong, when very few others apologise if they get something wrong, is interesting. Untold is run by a tiny number of unpaid people while the newspapers that we criticise have large teams of paid staff. And yet Untold still manages to bring forth articles on subjects that the professional writers don’t cover. And yes, I am fully aware that I get things wrong sometimes. But why Untold has to work to utterly different standards to the professionals bemuses me.

  • M18CTID

    Levenshulme Blue:
    Did you go out for that run on Sunday or did you sack it off you lazy fecker? 😉 Never realised you posted on here mate. Crikey, it’s been that long since I visited that I’d almost forgotten that this site exists. I see not much has changed and Tony is still spreading misinformation to his army of followers, and then when someone has the audacity to pull him up on it, he says why should he apologise for getting things wrong. Interesting.

    Nitram:
    You need to take a chill pill. You sound like a spoilt school kid when you whinge about other clubs spending big money on players. You remind me of Harry Enfield’s “Considerably richer than you” character. I also think you’ll find that the main issue City fans have with this site is that time and time and time again, Tony spouts ill-informed rubbish and never appears to fact-check anything. That might be your idea of good journalism but it certainly ain’t mine. Even more laughable is your astonishing lack of self-awareness when talking about one of the most “distasteful regimes in the world” in reference to City’s owner. Maybe you would like to remind us all which part of the world Arsenal’s main sponsor is from and how closely linked they are to City’s owner and this so called “distasteful regime”. Oh, and until you can provide evidence that City’s owner has ever personally done anything that can be classed as abhorrent, I suggest you wind your neck in. On the other hand, Arsenal’s owner kills exotic animals for shits and giggles but I guess that’s ok in your eyes.

    As for those blowing smoke up Wenger’s backside for his stance on FFP, well that really is comedy gold. You see, Wenger has recently done a full 180 on that and is now saying FFP protects the status quo and it stops clubs outside the elite from investing money and breaking through. Then again, is it a u-turn? Is it f*ck. Wenger was only ever arsed about protecting Arsenal’s interests when manager there and was just being bitter about the likes of City and Chelsea spending more money than Arsenal. He coined the phrase financial doping, yet conveniently forgets that he managed a financially doped club in Monaco long before Abramovich and Mansour pitched up at Chelsea and City respectively. It’s clear to anyone with half a brain cell that his pontificating was all a charade. Now, freed from the shackles of having to manage a sh*t show under that useless tw*t Kroenke, he’s saying what he really believes. Yet you lot fell for his previous “stance” hook, line, and sinker and lauded him for it. It’s one thing lauding him for all he achieved as manager of Arsenal (even I appreciate that) but lauding him for pulling the wool over your eyes with his false stance on FFP while Arsenal manager? Oh dear

    It’ll be interesting if that Newcastle takeover goes through. The meltdown on here will be hilarious.

    Take care everyone and if (note I said if) City win at CAS, I promise not to come on here and gloat about it.

  • M18: “army of followers”????

    I think whatever you have been putting in your tea has gone to your head.

    Oh and concerning Newcastle, you might want to go back and read what we actually said. We were one of the first, (I think actually the first but one can never be sure), to point out the link between the second Arab cold war and the purchase of football clubs. We even set it out in a little table to make it easy to follow. The media getting uppity about BeOutQ followed thereafter.

    Anyway, please do keep on aggrandising Untold, it really is rather droll.

  • M18CTID

    Tony,

    Thanks for responding and completely ignoring practically all the points raised with regards to your lack of fact-checking whenever the subject of City comes up 😉 Now, are you going to bother furnishing Levenshulme Blue with a reply to his rather comprehensive dismantling of your article?

    I would add Tony that you’re by no means alone when it comes to inaccuracies regarding City so I wouldn’t take it too personally mate. Many prominent sports journalists have displayed a complete lack of knowledge and balance when reporting on this matter. So much so, that I honestly don’t know how any of them will ever be able to show their face at the Etihad again if City win this appeal. You, on the other hand, are to all intents and purposes just a football fan so as much as I might enjoy pulling you up on stuff, you don’t get paid to post misleading information like these journos so I’ll cut you more of a break than I ever will with them.

  • M18CTD
    There is a point that is fundamental to me here, which I think is not one that you would agree with at all, so a meaningful communication between is unlikely on this topic. As a result I am not going to go through the commentary you mention, just as I don’t respond to 98% of the comments that are published here each day. In this case because from my point of view from the very start we are arguing semantics.

    In the commentary you cite, you say, “You state that “Manchester City have already lost one appeal…”. City didn’t lose the appeal, it was dismissed because CAS stated that an appeal could not be made against a judgement that hadn’t yet been disclosed so it’s somewhat disingenuous to state we’ve already “lost an appeal”.

    That is, for me (obviously not for you) a technical point that is of no real interest to me. OK I could write that Manchester City tried one approach and that didn’t work”… but so what. To take up my time (as I now am) arguing this point is a waste of my time, although obviously not yours. I am not interested in the semantics or finer points of the language, but in the general meaning. “City tried one approach and it got nowhere” is another way of saying it. But within the overall issue it is of no importance, so no I am not arguing it.

    I get comments like this all the time on this blog, and if I replied to them all I would hardly have any time to write new articles, and do the work that earns me money. And since I run this site pretty much on my own, and since I need money, that would be the end of this site.
    So I don’t take up my time, with what I think are trivia. Not least because there are 1000 other sites where the point could be made and the readers would undoubtedly lap it up.

    What I often do (which many other sites supporting many different clubs don’t do) is publish comments that disagree with me. Not the ones that are abusive or the ones that are too childish for words (of course just in my opinion) but most, whether they agree or not.
    But when I start reading an argument that opens with something that is to me (and of course it is still just me) a tiny trivial point when much bigger arguments are on offer, I don’t reply, and indeed stop reading. The abuse checker has let the piece go, so fine – maybe some other readers will find it of interest. I didn’t and I wanted to do something else.

    There is a fundamental point here: I have a limited amount of time, and the person who decides how to use that time is me. The writer has a choice, to open with a strong and serious point that demands debate, and then maybe that will get attention. If the writer chooses to start a commentary with such a point as this one fine, that is up to him. But he takes the consequences.

    A blog, the direction of which is dominated by the correspondents rather than the writers and publishers, is not what I am interested in spending hours each day working on, and is generally of little interest in my experience.

    Even the Untold Dylan facebook page which has commentaries pouring in all day and night is much the same – I respond when some serious turns up, or when an interesting argument catches my eye, or when there is abuse, but otherwise I let everyone that their say. After all I have my say in the article, so why not let everyone else have their say in the comments.

    If someone wants a serious debate they can make a serious point and I might pick it up, but they don’t determine how this blog proceeds or how I spend my time, any more than I determine how the football editors of the Mail, Guardian and Telegraph spend their time. Although it does appear they are following my pieces about the attacks on Fifa in Switzerland, which is rather nice.

    So sorry, no one has an absolute right of reply, and absolutely no one can determine how I am going to spend my time. I have chosen to use my time making this point, because I think it is important, but that opening point of the article you cite is (for me, personally) so trivial it is not worth reading on.

  • Nitram

    I don’t care how much money anybody spends or who spends it, except when it’s not earned, not theirs and most of all, comes from one of the most distasteful regimes on the planet, which is why I have a problem with both yourselves and Chelsea for similar but not exactly the same reason.

    As for ‘chill’ here you go again. Just because i don’t agree with, or like the way your club is run, or the way you and 90% of City fans who come here bury their heads in the sand, I have to chill.

    Read your own deluded ramblings to witness someone in need of medication.

  • Ango

    @Tony, I’m not a city fan, but I find it funny how you have gone on and on about how UEFA is corrupt and incompetent bla bla bla, but now Man city accuses them of the same, but man city is at fault. It reminds me of how untold kept singing about ref bias/incompetence/corruption, but when mourinho accused the refs AF the same as reason for his failing Chelsea side in 2016, suddenly the refs were correct on untold and it was mourinho being a moaner.
    Man city threatens to challenge UEFA in any and every court, they’re wrong because it’s a novel strategy, but untold was set up in 2009 to discuss football in a novel manner and untold is genius..
    On behalf of the arsenal fans that are not jealous of man city, please stop making us all look bad and allow the judicial proceedings to play out

  • Ango, i have not gone back and checked but as far as I remember I argued that Uefa was corrupt under Platini, and so it proved. But that when Aleksander Čeferin came in Uefa had a chance to reform, and I believe it has to a fair degree. If you have been reading my commentaries I think you may have seen that I now feel the key agencies of corruption are in Fifa – something on which I think I have written once or twice of late. My prime criticism of Man City’s strategy was that they said that if the ban was upheld they would bring Uefa down – that their objective was not to get justice but to destroy the current system.

    However there is one way to avoid my commentaries if you find them so horribly painful, and that is not to read them.

  • omgarsenal

    Access to the unvarnished truth about city will definitely NOT come from any club website or blogette but from the final results of the ongoing litigations and the subsequent response from UEFA and City. City fans coming on UA to defend their team is fine with me but they have no more priviledged access to the truth than anyone else, including UA.

  • Ango

    Hear hear