Posted on: February 6, 2023, 10:16h.
Last updated on: February 6, 2023, 11:30h.
If you’ve been thinking about betting on English Premier League Champion Manchester City in its current league battle with Arsenal, you might want to hold off for now. On Monday morning, the Premier League charged the Emirati-backed club with more than 100 violations of its financial rules.
The charges are unprecedented in English soccer. If found guilty by an independent tribunal, City could face a hefty points deduction or even relegation to the second tier.
The Premier League said the charges were the culmination of a four-year investigation and relate to the period from 2009 to 2018.
The club is accused of failing to give a “true and fair view of [its] financial position,” of misleading the league on player and manager remuneration, and of failing to comply with financial fair play (FFP) rules. It is also accused of failing to cooperate with the Premier League’s investigation.
Enter the Sheik
Back in 2008, City was a mid-table EPL team in financial trouble that lived in the shadow of its more successful rival, Manchester United. Enter Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the Abu Dhabi Group, a billionaire member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family and current deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates.
Backed by Sheik Mansour’s oil money, the club began splurging on many of the world’s best footballers. It has shelled out more than $1.5 billion on players since the Emirati takeover. Within four seasons, City had captured its first EPL title and went on to dominate English soccer, winning five more league titles, two FA Cups, and six League Cups.
But the allegation, put simply is that City cooked the books to make it appear it has been complying with FPP rules. These regulate how much a team can spend relative to the revenues it generates.
In 2020, UEFA, the European soccer governing body, found City to be in breach of its FFPs between 2012 and 2016 and subsequently booted the club from European competitions for two years.
UEFA claimed City had disguised money that came directly from its owner as independent revenue from commercial sponsorship deals. The club has always denied this, and the ban was ultimately overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) later that year.
Manchester City FC is surprised by the issuing of these alleged breaches of the Premier League rules, particularly given the extensive engagement and vast amount of detailed materials that the EPL has been provided with,” the club said in a statement Monday morning. “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.”
Should City be found guilty, it is unlikely that any sanctions will be applied this season, as the club will almost certainly appeal. Nevertheless, after a weekend when both City and Arsenal recorded rare losses, odds have tipped further in favor of the latter club. Arsenal is now 1:2 to win its first title in 19 years.