The media pile into Manchester City, but where have they been all this time?


Manchester City: what took the media so long?

By Tony Attwood

It is perhaps ironic and/or possibly amusing that Manchester City have been hit with 100+ accusations of false accounting and by and large cheating their way to a series of league titles, just after Untold ran the series The real facts about football that the media will never touch.   In case you missed them, here are the links

Now of course the media is all over Manchester City, with the Guardian writing today, “Sport only works if it is on some level real, credible and straight – any club that breaks the rules must be harshly punished.”

Well, yes, but then also so it should be pointed out that the media has been asleep at the wheel for years when it comes to football, being part of a cosy little association, in which the clubs provide them with hospitality and goodies, and in return, the real stories within the game are simply never reported.

Their main point today is that “This is serious, an array of new charges that threatens, if proven, to undermine the entire edifice of English football’s dominant power of the last decade, not to mention call into question the entire basis and motivation of the nation-state club ownership model.”   But they do get down to the nitty gritty (as it were) with the line that there is “No word… from Dude Wipes, the club’s official male-oriented toilet paper partner.”    And to be fair to what is I am sure a very important product to be associated with Manchester City, here’s a link to their website.

And the Guardian, although not pursuing Manchester C with the constancy that maybe others have shown (well I like to think so) does at least have the temerity now to point out what you have been reading in Untold since it happened, “The guilty verdict was dismissed because the court of arbitration for sport (Cas) decided, on a 2-1 majority, that some of Uefa’s claims were time-barred, which is not quite the same as having them properly examined and dismissed.”

But – and this is the big point which is at the centre of the media’s approach to football’s burgeoning irregularities – what they still don’t ask and have never asked is, “how on earth could an organisation with the power and size of Uefa allow itself to run out of time when chasing down Manchester City?”  I mean, it’s not like my little company not getting into court on time because I was laid up in hospital and there was no one else to cover.  It was bleedin’ Uefa what made that cock up.  And why????

But still, the media is gradually getting its head around the fact that all the arse licking for the past 15 years – which is how long Abu Dhabi’s owners decided to own a football club as well as everything else – has led them to ignore what has really been going on.

Of course if the media had any real understanding of what has been going on they might have been considering the overall position of the Premier League, but no, it has been left to us.  Now they’ll all pile in as if they have been there all the time, but I like to think (just because it gives me some comfort) that someone somewhere has been looking at the stories we’ve been running across the years to the effect that there is something seriously wrong with football, “maybe those guys are onto something.”

Of course, we have not been totally on our own.  Football is Fixed moved itself to a twitter account for greater security from prosecution – doing short snaps rather than detailed reviews.  We don’t get the detail, but it is still there.

The Guardian’s conclusion is “Uefa may have no real stomach for an extended fight. But the Premier League is Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and every other club whose interests are diminished by City’s on-field success. Justice: whatever it takes. But money does tend to lead the way.

“As for fairness, City’s supporters will point out, correctly, that there is plenty of chicanery elsewhere. Chelsea’s £1.5bn rolling debt to Roman Abramovich seems to have been all fine, somehow. But this argument doesn’t really lead anywhere. The misdeeds of others are not a free pass to break the rules. This is a case for more not less regulation.”

There’s a point there.   But it still doesn’t excuse not running the story, or all the other stories from football of this type, for all these years.


7 Replies to “The media pile into Manchester City, but where have they been all this time?”

  1. Tony,

    about Chelsea, what’s the saying again : a wrong does not make another wrong right ?

  2. At the same time as ignoring the serious questions over Man City’s finances, the media were generally expressing approval of their ability to maintain a large squad of top-class players – the “2 world-class candidates for every position” notion. This was turned into a disparaging comment on others, notably Arsenal, who could not match their strength in depth. Pundits would be fond of saying that they had more talent on the bench than Arsenal’s first eleven.

    Perhaps this feature is also now proving to be unsustainable, with the likelihood that players will be dissatisfied with limited playing time. How may minutes has Kalvin Phillips, an England international and former mainstay of Leeds United, actually played since his transfer?

  3. John L

    “……the “2 world-class candidates for every position” notion. This was turned into a disparaging comment on others, notably Arsenal, who could not match their strength in depth. Pundits would be fond of saying that they had more talent on the bench than Arsenal’s first eleven”.

    Very true. My thoughts exactly.

    Now don’t get me wrong, this is much much bigger than simply how all this affects, or more importantly affected Arsenal, especially in the early days when Abramovic rolled up at Chelsea, and then when the Abu Dhabi Group rocked up at Man City.

    But the fact is if Arsenal had been financially doped to the degree Chelsea were and it had drastically impacted on Manchester United’s chances of success instead of Arsenals as it most certainly did, there is no way it would of escaped microscopic scrutiny. Talk sports Durham would of been apoplectic with rage that Arsenal could buy and cheat their way to the title, and there is little doubt that that incandescent rage would of been echoed throughout the game.

    As it was, with Arsenal being the major casualty of these two clubs being bankrolled to the tune of Billions of pounds, it was embraced with loving arms. Seeing those Fancy Dan Arsenal Frenchies, with their myopic manager and their tici taci football, knocked of their high and mighty ‘invincible ‘perch was all jolly good fun and japes. The media were in ecstasy.

    Yes of course other clubs were affected, but none anywhere near to the degree we were, which as I say made it not just okay, but actually the thing everyone SHOULD be doing, including Arsenal, who of course didn’t have a clue with their new stadium and self financing nonsense.

    What a bunch of clowns those chumps at Arsenal are.

    New Stadium. Bah.

    Self financing. Humbug.

    Financial doping, that’s the way to go boys!!!!

    And here we are.

  4. A big cheer to Untold Arsenal and to you Tony for having banged on this nail all these years. Untold was almost on its own but sometimes it is better being on your own and doing the right thing then jumping on the big money wagon like the rest of the media have done all those years.
    Now will this lead to anything? I’m not holding my breath to be honest as I think City will come up with all the lawyers they can find to stop them from being penalised.
    Oh and in the case they will be penalised…. I hope that they then will finally turn to Chelsea. The other cheaters and financial dopers….

  5. @Nitram,

    fully agree….but things change. Any pendulum swings one way then the other. It has swung way to far on the endless moneypit side. And suddendly I imagine the other clubs are starting to weigh in – at least I imagine they do – as to counter the ‘buy-your-trophy’ strategy. And want a return to a more level playing field, for existing teams as well as future sold teams. Interestingly, this time, no way to go up to the CAS and no 5 year limit. Worse, the whole thing is now public. And it will drag on. I would not be surprised either if we see some regulation changes as well. Why would other teams tolerate all this and lose money as they just don’t stand a chance to win nor to get good players at an acceptable price.

    The one thing that does surprise me is how poorly Citeh are doing in relation to the 2 world class teams they have. To me it shows that you cannot have 25 world cup winners in the same team. Why do you think Jesus and Zinchenko left the best team in the world to come to ‘poor 4th is not a trophy’ Arsenal ? they must have had their issues, playing side, at Citeh. So, endless money does not seem to the THE solution, and endless money and THE coach is not either. At some point, the human element is still counting for something, which is good news.

    In Europe, the championships are seen as feeder leagues to the PL. And considering how small an impact PL clubs have made in Europe, they take the money and run when a PL club comes and gets a player. Why should they not ?

  6. “Why would other teams tolerate all this and lose money as they just don’t stand a chance to win nor to get good players at an acceptable price”.

    That’s an interesting take on it because part of Man City’s fans justification for spending such exorbitant amounts of money is the complete opposite to that. As they saw it, that was the ONLY way they could win the PL, or any sort of trophy.

    I lost count of the amount of times Man City fans came on here saying how if they wanted to win the league they had to break up the ‘big boys’ cartel. Why they included Arsenal in this Cartel when we had never been bank rolled, a la Chelsea, they never made clear. I also pointed out that a Cartel that allowed Chelsea and Man Utd to get relegated, and Arsenal to go many years without a trophy, wasn’t the most impressive one I’d ever seen, but that also seemed to have little effect on them. But a cartel it was, and that gave them every justification for spending billions of un earned money as a means of buying their way to the top.

    And you can bet your bottom dollar that Newcastle fans also see oil money as their only way of winning anything. If you asked Everton fans I’m sure they’d say the same thing.

    As they would see it, a Billionaire owner bank rolling you to the title is THE only way.

    And because of where we are now, by and large they have a point. With the arrival of the oil money at Chelsea and Man City, as well as the financial juggernaut that is Manchester United, when you consider those 3 have won 90% of premier league titles and 75% of all domestic trophies it probably is the case.

    Liverpool, Leicester, and now hopefully Arsenal, will be honourable exceptions.

    So fundamentally, yes, big big money is crucial, but does it have to be, more to the point, should it be allowed to be, the obscene amounts of money pumped into these clubs by the owners?

    I’ve always said no it shouldn’t. Yes Arsenal are now spending big, but they are doing it from running the club well. And I cant even believe I’m saying this, but I even have sympathy for Spurs. They are, or at least seem to me to be, at least trying to run their club ‘properly’ in a self sustaining manner. But as well as they’ve done at times they still had no success.

    But back to your original point, why WOULD or more pertinently why did other teams tolerate it? A few reasons I suspect.

    1) Moaning was pointless as in Wengers case.

    2) Many owners lived in hope of one day being able to cash in on their own oil take over.

    3) It didn’t really affect a lot of teams. Teams that traditionally, given their fan base, history etc. were never realistically likely to challenge for trophies, especially the title, in any event.

    4) Trickle down. Certain clubs, if they got the scouting/youth players right, could make fortunes selling them on to these big boys, especially given how the value of English players rocketed because of the ‘home’ rules that came in.

    Now it just seems things have gone TOO far and maybe there is a seed change. Lets hope so, but honestly, I doubt it.

    Too many snouts in the trough I’m afraid.

  7. The timing is interesting. One theory is that the PL wants to be seen to be doing something about Man. City ahead of the creation/appointment of an independent regulator, so they could then argue against the necessity of that appointment. This is probably irrelevant, given that any legal proceedings may drag on for months or probably years.

    I also wonder whether the possible imminent potential sales of Man. Utd. and Liverpool will be factors to consider, particularly when we note who may be bidding for them.

    The PL may have to rethink the “Fit and Proper Person’s Test” (or whatever they call it these days).

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