Manchester City Football Club stands a chance to lose its titles or even face relegation if found guilty of serious Financial Fair Play rules breaches placed against them by the Premier League.
The Premier League chief executive Richard Masters on January 16, 2024, confirmed that a date has already been set for the English champions to defend themselves against the allegations.
They face over 100 breaches of competition rules across a span of more than a decade, with the gravest accusations being that misinterpretation of finances across nine seasons.
If those charges are proven, the Cityzens face a potential upheaval as the league levels 115 charges of financial wrongdoing against them.
The stakes are high, with the possibility of severe points deduction if not expulsion from the top-tier league.
A hefty points deduction or automatic relegation, with the team having to seek membership to the EFL, would be the most dramatic scenario.
However, the bottom-tier league does not have to allow City into their pyramid, so relegation to the fifth tier is a possibility, if unlikely.
City could also be stripped of their Premier League titles but that also seems a remote possibility.
However, the nature of the allegations mean that it will take a high bar of evidence for the independent panel to be convinced.
Accusations against City
The heart of the matter lies in the accusation that City engaged in illicit financing and lacked cooperation between 2009 and 2018.
EPL contends that City’s main sponsorship agreements were misrepresented, alleging a conspiracy involving executives from multiple companies.
This suggests a complex web of deception that, if proven true, could have serious repercussions for the club.
Former City Financial Advisor and Lawyer Stefan Borson noted, “If proven, this is super serious. Nobody would argue with that. City themselves in their submission”
Everton and Nottingham Forest
Recent accusations against Everton and Nottingham Forest for breaching Profitability and Sustainability rules provide a backdrop to City’s case.
Everton has already suffered a 10-point deduction for a separate breach emphasizing the severity of financial regulations.
However, legal expert Stefan Borson asserts that City’s case is on a completely different scale, suggesting consequences beyond mere point deductions.
Also, according to the EPL boss, the volume and character of the charges laid before the champions cannot be compared to those of Everton and Nottingham.
“The volume and character of the charges laid before Man City are being heard in a completely different environment.
There is a date set for that proceeding; I can’t tell you when that is, but it is progressing,” he said.
Past Bans and UEFA Overturn
City’s previous encounter with financial allegations occurred with UEFA, resulting in a two-year European ban.
The ban was later overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in 2020 after a successful appeal.
Borson believes the club will prevail again, citing the difficulty of presenting cogent proof for such a prolonged period of alleged misconduct.
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According to Borson, it is unlikely that the champions will be found guilty due to the involvement of numerous individuals internally and externally.
He suggests that proving dishonesty and perjury on such a grand scale over a decade would be a formidable challenge for any independent commission.
“That a whole load of people lied and a whole load of executives from multiple companies were in on it and that the club also lied to multiple other parties.
Professionals, people doing due diligence on the company, the league, UEFA, the FA,” he said.
Guardiola defends City
Soon after, manager Pep Guardiola has at many times openly defended the team, asserting that the club will be proved to be completely innocent.
“We have already been condemned. You have to understand that 19 teams in the Premier League are accusing us without us having the ability to defend. I am fully convinced we will be [proven] innocent, ” he said in a press statement.
The team has soared to success under the manager, registering impressive records in 2023 following their title winning spree.
Despite the allegations, the club continues to record success, with a spectacular 2023 calendar year seeing them clinch five prestigious trophies.
Furthermore, the achievement was a record breaking one as City are now the first English team ever to clinch five major titles under a calendar year.
Also, the Etihad blues achieved a remarkable fete last year, claiming a third consecutive Premier League title.
The team further set a record as Guardiola led them to their fifth Premier League triumph in just seven seasons.
Additionally, the club clinched its maiden UEFA Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup title titles in what has been a remarkable 2023.