- The Premier League has accused Manchester City of breaching over 100 rules in relation to financial fair-play over a nine-year period, beginning back in 2009.
- The club could face serious charges as a result, such as points deductions, fines and expulsion from the Premier League.
- However, City have said that they are “surprised” at the charges that they are facing and believe that they have fully cooperated with the investigation, also stating that they have “irrefutable evidence that exists in support of its position.”
What charges are Manchester City facing?
It is not the first time that City have been accused of breaching FFP rules and they were banned by UEFA in 2020 from European competitions. However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturned the decision later that year.
The Citizens now face their next battle but this time against the Premier League, after they charged City with over 100 breaches of its financial rules and regulations.
As a result, the Premier League have referred the case to an independent commission, where they will decide the fate of the club. They have the power to enforce punishments outlined in the Premier League’s handbook such as points deductions, fines, league expulsion, and the stripping of previous league titles.
In the latest set of allegations, following a four-year investigation into the matter, the Premier League has stated that City had provided false financial information in relation to revenues, sponsorships, and operating costs. Moreover, it is also believed that the club failed to fully disclose managerial remuneration over the years that Roberto Mancini was in charge, as well as player remuneration.
Breaches also include the violations of rules based around profit and sustainability for three seasons - 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18. The Premier League have also alleged that City did not comply with UEFA’s regulations on FFP and licensing from 2013/14 to 2017/18.
How have the Citizens performed since the 2008 takeover?
Since 2008 when Abu Dhabi United Group Investment and Development Limited took over the club, Man City have won six Premier League titles, two FA cups and six League cups. The Citizens also won the domestic treble for the 2018/19 campaign and finished as runners-up of the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League.
Success on the pitch has also been matched off it. Originally, City needed large financial investment by the new ownership, leading to the club spending more money than any other Premier League club prior to the 2009/10 season. This was also coupled with large investments in the club’s facilities, such as on their Etihad campus training complex.
Operating revenue for the club has grown by over 600% since the takeover. In 2009, operating revenue sat at €102 million and since, that has grown to €731 million for the 2021/22 season. The largest factor that has driven the growth in revenue has come from commercial success which has seen the figure rise from €21 million in 2008/09 to €373 million in 2021/22.
Naturally, the growth in revenue does match with the current state of the sport, with ever-growing sponsorship deals occurring globally in football. However, with the likes of their shirt sponsorship deal with Etihad Airways being one of the most profitable in the industry and the fact that City’s commercial revenue has overtaken rivals Manchester United by quite the margin, it has led to questions being asked about the figures and the possibility that they have been inflated.
For the 2008/09 season, City’s commercial revenue sat at €21 million, whilst United’s was €82 million. By the 2021/22 campaign, City had overtaken United and recorded a €373 million commercial revenue, compared to United’s €304 million.
What has been the club’s response?
Similarly to 2020, City have denied the allegations and have stood firm on their stance of innocence. After Der Spiegel published the original findings of leaked documents back in the winter of 2018, City responded then that the allegations were based on "illegal hacking and out of context publication of City emails.”
In their latest statement released after the Premier League’s claims, City have stated that “The Club welcomes the review of this matter by an independent Commission, to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence that exists in support of its position. As such we look forward to this matter being put to rest once and for all.”
Throughout all of the investigations and findings through Der Spiegel, UEFA and now the Premier League, City have always denied any form of wrongdoing. Similarly, Pep Guardiola has remained firm on the situation, denying any knowledge of such illegalities and has reaffirmed his trust in the club. However, the 52-year-old did state that if the club were found to have been lying to him then he would cut all ties.
How does the future look for City?
The club remains confident that they will be able to battle the charges like they did when they went up against UEFA in 2020. Of course, the fact that it has taken the Premier League four years since their investigation began to finally charge the club, it is likely that this process will be long and drawn out. Something that will favour City, especially after they were able to have aspects of their case with UEFA time-barred.
However, the Premier League’s allegations will not be dealing with any time related issues but City still remained confident. In 2020, they believed that UEFA would not have won their case regardless of the time-barred restrictions and so now they are open to the chance of being able to clear their name.
In terms of Guardiola’s future, the process is extremely unlikely to have concluded by the end of his contract in 2025. Although public knowledge of the investigation has done little to deter the Spaniard from his position as City manager, the closer scrutiny could eventually take its toll on the former Barcelona man. Reports have linked Guardiola with a potential move away from the Etihad and Paris Saint-Germain are possible suitors to acquire him.
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