By Tony Attwood
The key issues in the Premier League investigation into expenditure by Manchester City seems to be that Manchester City have resisted handing over documents to the League and to the arbitration panel, on the grounds that the League itself a) had no jurisdiction and b) the arbitration panel not impartial.
If they get away with that it would blow apart the fundamentals of the way the Premier League itself carries out investigations into its own affairs. Which could well be why the Premier League is moving so slowly in fighting this. They have no intention of winning.
If the PL lose then Man C will have proven that the PL does not have the right to demand documents and the show is over.
Of course the clubs can carry on as if nothing has happened, but the PL as the arbitrator of itself will have vanished.
I suspect the Mail is fully aware of this which is why we have today’s piece in the Mail on Arsenal. That starts with the comment about Arteta trying “to make his team competitive again.” A comment that ignores the fact that for the last two thirds of last season, Arsenal were so competitive they out performed every team except Manchester City.
Where the Mail does get it right however is with the comment that, “It seems a day doesn’t pass at the moment without fresh Arsenal transfer speculation.”
The only novelty in all this is that neither the player nor Arsenal had any intention of a transfer to Aston Villa despite the Mail’s claim in an earlier piece that “Villa have made Smith Rowe their priority transfer target “
What is interesting in that piece is that the Mail does reflect on how having avoided relegation in 2019/20 by one point they soared ahead to finish six points behind Arsenal, in Arsenal’s worst season for 25 years (and I know it was the worst season bit because I read it in the Daily Mail).
And despite the Mail’s constant coverage of the issue (Aston Villa preparing third bid for Arsenal’s Emile Smith Rowe for example) they now say “there was never any intention of joining Aston Villa, who submitted bids of £25million and £30m for him.” If that was so why did they spend so much time running the story? And where is the “Villa strategy in tatters” story if ESM really was their prime objective.
Instead what the story did do was fit in the the Mail’s endless attack on Arsenal as when they have said, “2020-21 was a lousy season for Arsenal. Smith Rowe certainly impressed in the way he linked things together and brought others into play but plenty of others let the side down.”
And so the attack goes on, even though the Mail reveals that it is as aware as we are that last season was a season of three thirds (rather than two halves). They, quite accurately, note that Arsenal “lost eight Premier League games by Christmas en route to an eventual finish of eighth.”
But later they also tell us that, “there was no silver lining to a dire season and they will have to be better from the first whistle this time, even with new recruits to bed in.”
It is a perfect example of selective argument, focusing on the first third of the season but refusing to look at what happened in the remaining two thirds. Also there’s no mention of the curious PGMO figures either. Yet all the details are available for all to see.
What’s interesting is that the Manchester City piece in the Mail doesn’t go into detail there either, which was why, for our piece we had to take a look at the European media, and what the Court of Appeal actually said.
However in the Manchester City case there is very little coverage of the implication of Man C’s statement that they have no confidence in the League’s investigation, despite the fact that this ultimately threatens the entire basis of the League as a self-regulating body with no interference from without.
In the Arsenal case there is virtually no coverage of how for the last two thirds of last season Arsenal had the second best record in the entire league, but instead talk of “no silver lining to a dire season” which is palpably false.
I think the anger of the Man C fans is misplaced. The Mail knows how to attack when it wants (“2020-21 was a lousy season for Arsenal”) and although it has run this story about Man C it still misses the main point: that the Premier League runs it’s own affairs, and that’s where much of the problem lies.
The League knows that if it found Man C guilty it would itself be tied up in legal affairs until the oil runs out.
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