The world’s richest club has been charged with 115 alleged breaches of financial rules. How will Manchester City deal with the upcoming inquiry?
“It’s important to have the feeling that they support me in that decision and in terms of supportive ways, one second the decision, so I said many times, I cannot be in a better place.”Pep Guardiola
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is regarded as one of the greatest managers of all time.
He’s won four Premier League titles, four league cups and the FA Cup in his six seasons at the Premier League club.
Last year he signed a new contract with Manchester City, claiming he ‘couldn’t be in a better place’.
But that looks like it might change… and fast.
The Premier League has charged Manchester City with 115 breaches of its financial rules over a period of nine years between 2009 and 2018.
The culmination of a four-year investigation could become one of the most transformative stories since the start of the Premier League.
Manchester City is the world’s richest football club thanks to its owners, the Abu Dhabi United Group, who have pumped almost two billion dollars into the team since buying it in 2008.
That has made it the most successful English club of the past decade, winning the Premier League six times in the past 11 seasons.
So the announcement from the Premier League was a bombshell moment…
“It’s, it is a very complex and messy situation. There are lots of vested interests. There are lots of interest in parties, there are lots of stakeholders.”Kieran Maguire
That’s Kieran Maguire, a leading football finance expert, he goes on to explain what the charges being brought against Manchester City are…
“These can be distilled into three broad accusations. First of all, Manchester City has artificially inflated its income. For example it’s had some commercial deals with companies back in Abu Dhabi where the club’s ownership is based, and the accusation, the allegation made by the Premier League is that the stated figure is, let’s say £60 million worth of sponsorship, but actually its sponsor was only paying £20 million. And the balance was topped up by the club owners. Top ups don’t count towards what we refer to as financial fair play, which is a cost control mechanism operating.”Kieran Maguire
Financial fair play rules are intended to create a more level playing field, by allowing clubs to only spend what they earn.
Under Premier League rules, clubs are allowed to lose £105 million over a rolling three-year period.
The allegations levelled against Manchester City are that the club has used different tactics to circumvent these rules.
But the charges don’t stop there. Here’s Kieran Maguire again…
“Secondly, the accusation that Manchester City had been understating the costs of running the club. And the way that they’d achieved this was through the use of parallel contracts. One example here is the former manager of Roberto Mancini. Who apparently was being paid a salary by Manchester City of around about £1.45 million a year. But in addition, he had a contract to provide some coaching for another football team back in Abu Dhabi, and that contract was worth £1.75 million pounds a year, despite the fact that he only obliged him to do four days of coaching. The third accusation is that Manchester City have not provided enough assistance to the Premier League over the course of the last four years in which the investigation into their financial affairs has been taking place.”Kieran Maguire
So how did we get here, and why is this only coming to light now?
The Premier League started its investigation in 2018 after documents obtained by hackers were published by the German investigative site Der Spiegel.
But the timing of the Premier League’s announcement that it was charging Manchester City was notable because it came two days before the government was due to launch a policy document on football governance.
It was expected to set out the need for an independent regulator, which the Premier League is vehemently opposed to.
The government has now delayed that launch, citing the volume of other government business, but cynics have suggested that the Premier League chose to announce the charges to show that it can police the game without a regulator.
The Premier League’s commission will be confidential and proceedings will be heard in private, so we won’t know how it is progressing or at what pace until it’s finished.
Other Premier League clubs want a quick resolution because the punishments – which in theory range all the way from reprimands to expulsion from the league – could have a significant impact on each club’s ranking.
Manager Pep Guardiola has previously said he would walk from the club immediately if it was found guilty of wrongdoing.
But with more than 100 charges against Manchester City the process could last years.
This episode was written by Andrew Butler and mixed by Rebecca Moore.