- The media pile into Manchester City, but where have they been all this time?
- Manchester City accused of over 100 breaches of Premier League financial rules
By Sir Hardly Anyone
It was on 12 May 2014 – yes almost nine years ago – that Untold ran the headline Man City decides to take on Uefa: the result will finally decide who runs football.
The result, as you have probably realised was that Manchester City won and Uefa lost because Uefa delayed the case for too long (which was either incompetence on their part, or bribery from elsewhere, although we have no evidence of the latter).
At that time the situation was that all of the clubs sanctioned by Uefa for breaking FFP regulations had agreed to their punishment except for Manchester City who refused either to accept their punishment or to go to appeal.
In that article, we pointed out that Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan not only ran Manchester City but that on May 21, 2013, he had bought the rights to Major League Soccer in New York, in addition to the club in Melbourne, Australia, that he owned.
On that occasion, Uefa found that the Man City £151m loss over 2011 to 2013 was outside the FFP limits, and set a deadline to accept a €60m settlement to be paid to Uefa over 3 years, plus a limit of 21 players in the Champions League (with restrictions on the number of foreign imports) and a wage cap to the current level. Arsene Wenger spoke out clearly saying that Manchester City should be kicked out.
One thing that made Man City’s situation worse at that time was that they had brought in the people who wrote FFP and reportedly told them to show Man City the way around the rules. That caused annoyance throughout football and outrage in Uefa, suggesting that Uefa were themselves duped from within by their own accountants and advisers.
But what really got Uefa and the Premier League exercised was that among its other financial tricks Manchester City earned £47m in 2012-13 from “selling their branding, football and other expertise” to their women’s team and their New York team – teams they already owned. So Manchester City women were being charged by Manchester City plc huge sums for their guidance and expertise in running a company Manchester City plc owned.
Such questioning called into doubt the honesty of the absolute ruler. In return, the owners of Manchester City declared war on Uefa and anyone else who got in their way.
Uefa had the chance to get back at Manchester City when it gave them a two-year ban from the Champions League. But Uefa itself screwed up, either deliberately because they were bribed, or through the most appalling incompetence (I’ve no idea which), by delaying the case. City won on the technicality that Uefa was out of time.
So City won, but the case led to a growing paranoia which led the arse-licking Sun to say in 2019 things like “‘Manchester City believe there is a campaign by Europe’s elite, including local rivals United, to bring them down’.” Among other things the Sun declared that the “FIFA fair play model is wrong”.
In the commentary at that time, Martin Lipton, then the Sun’s deputy head of sport, now their chief sports writer, said, “If Europe’s big guns thought they could pick Manchester City off, they know different now. The “noisy neighbours” will not be pushed around by FIFA, UEFA or anybody else.”
In short, the Sun was saying a conspiracy of other clubs, Fifa and Uefa had joined together to put Manchester City down and that “MANCHESTER CITY are at war with goat-loving Uefa investigations chief…”
Of course, there is a reason why the Sun supports Manchester City, for the newspaper famously accused Liverpool supporters of being to blame for much of the outcome of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. Since then many Liverpudlians and Liverpool supporters elsewhere have singularly refused to buy the Sun, and estimates suggest that the boycott of the paper by the city has cost the publishers £15m a month at 1989 prices ever since.
So in response the Sun looked for other causes to support in order to boost sales. And where better than with Manchester City, a club whose owner Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family has not always had the best of publicity?
But reading the Sun’s fairly balanced if simplistic review of yesterday’s events, it looks as if the rats know when to abandon a sinking ship. And that does lose Man City their one major outlet in the media. The claim and its supporters won’t be bothered, but it looks like it might leave them without any friends in the media. Bit like Arsenal under Arsene Wenger.
Given that we have been covering this tale from the start in a somewhat different way from most other commentators, you won’t be surprised to know that we’ll be continuing our review in future articles. There’s a lot more to be dug up.
- Bournemouth v Arsenal: the team news, Jesus’ problem, and winning records
- Bournemouth v Arsenal: injury update, and the record between the clubs
- Bournemouth v Arsenal and Tottenham’s yellow card bonanza
- Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the dirtiest team of all?
- The great injury conundrum: how can Arsenal cope, and how are other clubs suffering?