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Steve

The English Football Thread

Started by Steve,

For the City case I understand the numbers are from 2012 to 2016 when allegedly City was way more attractive as a club than Chelsea, Liverpool or Arsenal and was making more money that these clubs through sponsorship deals, tickets, global merchandising and other business related stuff that let's be honest we all knew from the off that it was dodgy as fuck. And the same goes for Paris SG. 

The ban is the correct thing to do and should not be rescinded, financial malpractice is illegal every day of the week and City is totally guilty of it. 

In the end UEFA is a corrupt institution, too, but the Champions League is their competition and it is an invitation based one so if City wants to participate in then they must respect the rules like all the others do. 

When you think of it, the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool restrict themselves from buying player X or player Y because it would not look good in the financial books and would maybe exceed their incomes so in the end they (Chelsea and Liverpool) restrict themselves from doing anymore deals. And then comes City giving no fucks about the FFP rules throwing money left and right just to justify that money by some super dodgy income deals through mammoth sponsorpship deals through the Sheik's brother in law company and so on and so forth. 

That club is stuffed with dodgy, inflated as fuck sponsorship deals. Yes they make tons of money, but traced back I bet all those deals involve their owner's companies and business which is wrong, hence the ban is correct in my view. Well partially correct as long as PSG don't get one, too. 

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11 hours ago, Laylabelle said:

If that's the case and 5th place do get a place...hopefully we wont screw it up so much still we dont! That be even worse.

Get 4th please. I don't trust this 5th place thing

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The deeper implications are huge. City are out of the running for virtually every big player including Sancho! City's own players will want to leave the club. Will Real Madrid or Barcelona tempt De Bruyne? Pep will be heading for the exit door too! All of this in a season that is already spiraling. The club had it coming

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4 hours ago, Strike said:

Get 4th please. I don't trust this 5th place thing

Nope. Until it's been officially said. But if it does happen and we somehow finish 6th...

Thing is if the ban does stick and the main players do leave let's hope us and other clubs step up. Otherwise just be all about Liverpool for a while. If they go into next season how they have this one especially. Not that City been much of a challenge but for a bit

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14 hours ago, Vesper said:

I cannot see it totally blue-washed away

clubs will go apeshit

I mentioned this yesterday.....there is no way they will get off this. Other Clubs will go batshit. And it sends a message that its ok, do what you want. City are fucking pathetic when they say they have done nothing wrong. A blind person can see your shit your cheating scumbags.

13 hours ago, NikkiCFC said:

This is not enough. Surely FA has to do something as well. 

If they get only a year ban then it has been well worth it for City, heck even 2 years is getting off cheaply imo. CAS better not fuck up here, they must send a crucial and frim message here.

It is said that they could face point rediction in epl too.....that would be proper.

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Points reduction isn’t good enough. They should be in the Championship.

I’ve been waiting for this moment. When we got the transfer ban, I did mention City is going to get theirs and it will be even worse as they have done far worse things.

Here we are. CAS and UEFA MUST stand firm with this decision. That corrupt club needs to be put in their place. Fail to do that, scrap FFP - let rich owners pump money to their club.

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11 hours ago, petre.ispirescu said:

For the City case I understand the numbers are from 2012 to 2016 when allegedly City was way more attractive as a club than Chelsea, Liverpool or Arsenal and was making more money that these clubs through sponsorship deals, tickets, global merchandising and other business related stuff that let's be honest we all knew from the off that it was dodgy as fuck. And the same goes for Paris SG. 

The ban is the correct thing to do and should not be rescinded, financial malpractice is illegal every day of the week and City is totally guilty of it. 

In the end UEFA is a corrupt institution, too, but the Champions League is their competition and it is an invitation based one so if City wants to participate in then they must respect the rules like all the others do. 

When you think of it, the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool restrict themselves from buying player X or player Y because it would not look good in the financial books and would maybe exceed their incomes so in the end they (Chelsea and Liverpool) restrict themselves from doing anymore deals. And then comes City giving no fucks about the FFP rules throwing money left and right just to justify that money by some super dodgy income deals through mammoth sponsorpship deals through the Sheik's brother in law company and so on and so forth. 

That club is stuffed with dodgy, inflated as fuck sponsorship deals. Yes they make tons of money, but traced back I bet all those deals involve their owner's companies and business which is wrong, hence the ban is correct in my view. Well partially correct as long as PSG don't get one, too. 

But psg was worse. How they got money for neymar and mbappe? 

If city are guilty so are they. 

Hence the ban is not justice because you do it for one team but don't do it for the other. 

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6 minutes ago, Jason said:

Burnley only 5 points behind 5th, which could be a CL spot, after 3 wins in their last 4. Christ!

b05b52598771b16dfd2e573a83f0d802.pngcaccada0d2a9b295d7952f7cc0174594.png

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8 minutes ago, Jason said:

Burnley only 5 points behind 5th, which could be a CL spot, after 3 wins in their last 4. Christ!

curious to see if and how many points Shitty get docked

could make move all the top 10 up if it is a serious amount

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Just now, Vesper said:

curious to see if and how many points Shitty get docked

could make move all the top 10 up if it is a serious amount

Not sure if they will punish City this season. I assume the investigation will take some time. The points deduction may happen next season.

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Expect all-out war at ‘CAS Two’ – Manchester City’s Champions League ban explained

https://theathletic.com/1609547/2020/02/14/manchester-city-champions-league-ban-cas-two/

PEP-GUARDIOLA-4-1024x712.jpg

Manchester City have been banned from European club competition for the next two seasons and fined £25 million for “serious breaches” of UEFA’s licensing and financial fair play (FFP) regulations.

City say they are “disappointed but not surprised” and plan to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

So what does this mean for City now? Will Pep Guardiola stay at the club if there is no Champions League football? Here, The Athletic explains the implications for the future of Manchester City as we know it…

What have Manchester City done wrong?

The independent Adjudicatory Chamber of UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) said City “overstated its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016”. It also said the club “failed to cooperate in the investigation”.

The allegations were based on hacked emails between senior figures within City’s ownership group, which implied the club had made a cynical and concerted attempt to deceive European football’s financial watchdog.

According to Der Spiegel, the German newspaper, City had lied about the true source of millions of pounds’ worth of sponsorship income and hidden various costs that should have been factored into their FFP calculation.

Under UEFA rules, clubs are meant to spend only as much on players and wages as they earn, and there are limits on the amount of additional revenue a club’s owner can put in from their own pocket.

The news of the ban was welcomed by La Liga president Javier Tebas last night, who praised UEFA for “finally taking decisive action”.

“Enforcing the rules of financial fair play and punishing financial doping is essential for the future of football,” he said.

In City’s case, it is alleged that £51.5 million of the sponsorship money they were meant to receive from United Arab Emirates-based airline Etihad came from Abu Dhabi United Group, the holding company controlled by City’s stated owner, the deputy prime minister of the UAE and member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family, Sheikh Mansour.

Furthermore, the emails suggest the club got more than £30 million in costs off the books by paying former manager Roberto Mancini large consultancy fees via Al Jazira, Sheikh Mansour’s team in Abu Dhabi, and setting up an elaborate scheme to shift the players’ image-rights payments to a third party, which was then secretly reimbursed.


Manchester City have said they will “commence proceedings with the Court of Arbitration for Sport at the earliest opportunity”. How long will this process take? Is City’s appeal likely to be heard before the end of the season?

There is no set amount of time for a hearing but very high-profile cases — and it is hard to think of a more high-profile case than this — are heard quicker than most. CAS also tries to meet the natural deadlines imposed by the sporting calendar.

Any appeal from Manchester City, and they have been prepared to appeal a negative result from the outset, will be “expedited” or fast-tracked. This is what CAS does with doping cases immediately before Olympic Games or big disputes during major tournaments. All parties will want to get the City case finalised before next season’s Champions League campaign starts with the first qualifying round on July 7 and 8.

City have been preparing to throw everything at UEFA in the event that they would have their day in court.

The two-year ban does, of course, give UEFA some wriggle room in that it could be reduced to 12 months and European football’s governing body could still claim victory over City. But this is a very complex case and it may drag on. When Velez Sarsfield took City and FIFA to CAS after alleging City had signed young striker Benjamin Garre from them when he was 15, the appeal was lodged in May 2017 and was supposed to be heard in July of that year but was not settled until April 2018. City were cleared of wrongdoing.

The “full reasoned decision” of the Adjudicatory Chamber of UEFA’s financial control body, who imposed the ban and fine on Friday, will not be published before CAS makes its final decision.


On what grounds can City appeal?

There are two main areas. One is along the lines of the statement they released on Friday night, that they don’t believe the process has been fair and that UEFA has, in City’s view, pushed for this outcome. We’ve seen in their attempt to get the case thrown out already at CAS that they will jump on any procedural error — for example the supposed leak to the New York Times. So if UEFA has slipped up in any way, City will try to exploit it.

It is also likely they will use the result of an investigation against Paris Saint-Germain. This was eventually dismissed when the same UEFA prosecutor who has acted in this case, Yves Leterme, decided that the value of PSG’s sponsorships were more or less at the value that PSG declared — despite an independent valuation suggesting they were worth much less. Even other key figures at UEFA were understood to have been alarmed by that decision, and City are sure to have monitored it.

The other line of attack is likely to come from City having kept a studious eye on their European rivals’ financial activities since they have been under investigation. They have been taking notes on transfer expenditure, on clubs receiving extra funds from their sponsors and they could well argue that what they have been accused of doing is no worse than what others are doing.

Either way, we should assume all-out war. Manchester City have made no bones about the fact that they intend to fight this one until the last QC.

They set their stall out with the pre-emptive CAS appeal they made to have the FFP case thrown out before UEFA’s adjudicatory appeal had even heard it. You cannot go to the highest arbitration body until you have been through the usual process — what is known as exhausting all internal remedies — but City were trying it on.

Why? First, it was a textbook case of parking tanks on lawns. City sent eight lawyers to the CAS appeal, UEFA sent two. They were sending a message. The Athletic understands City referred to this operation as “CAS One”, which strongly suggests they always knew there would be a “CAS Two”.

They also hoped to throw some shade on UEFA’s processes, which you could argue they achieved. The written verdict that was published on the CAS website last week did criticise European football’s governing body for some loose language in its rule book. Expect City’s lawyers to pepper that cut with blows next time around.

And finally, they wanted UEFA to stop leaking to journalists. This they certainly achieved. Although this meant they had to stop doing it themselves, too. Such niceties are unlikely to be observed in the next round of fighting at CAS.


How does this affect City in the Premier League?

The Premier League investigation into City is independent of UEFA’s and remains ongoing. There could be various penalties, of which a points deduction is one. The Premier League also has the power to remove City’s licence to participate in the Champions League if they have been found to have made “a false statement (whether made verbally or in writing) in or in connection with an application”.


What does this mean for other Premier League teams in Europe? 

If City’s appeal is not successful and the club finishes in the top four this season and next, the side which finishes fifth in 2019-20 and 2020-21 will qualify for the Champions League.

Europa League qualification is a little more complicated. If City’s ban is upheld and they finish in the top four for the next two campaigns, the sixth-placed team in the Premier League would be granted a place in the Europa League group stage, alongside the winners of the FA Cup. The EFL Cup winners qualify for the second qualifying round of the competition. If either of the cup winners also finish in the top five of the Premier League — or if City win either cup — the spots would go to the next best-placed Premier League sides. In theory, this could be the side which finishes eighth in the top flight.


What happens if City win the Champions League this season?

There’s a long way to go yet, but it would have no impact on next year’s competition.

City face Real Madrid in the last 16 of this season’s Champions League, with the first leg to be played on 26 February at the Bernabeu.


Are any other Premier League clubs at risk of this sort of sanction?

There are no active investigations into other clubs regarding potential FFP breaches.


What happens if City win the Carabao Cup this season? Are Aston Villa in Europe already?

Pep Guardiola gets another trophy and City would enter the 2020-21 Carabao Cup in the second round along with all the other Premier League teams who aren’t competing in Europe, assuming their ban is upheld. Villa have to win the Carabao Cup to enter the second qualifying round of next season’s Europa League — there are no prizes for coming second.


What does this mean for Pep Guardiola’s future?

This is one of the key questions. Guardiola has always insisted that he will see out his current contract, which runs until the end of next season, and could even extend his deal to stay beyond that.

There are probably two main schools of thought here: one, that if he is not in the Champions League next year he could make a case to be released from his contract or he could simply quit.

The other is that he has always been especially loyal to Txiki Begiristain, one of the men responsible for handing him his break in management at Barcelona. Begirisitain is currently City’s director of football, working with CEO Ferran Soriano, also previously of Barca. Additionally, Guardiola has developed a very close relationship with Khaldoon Al Mubarak, the City chairman, and has spoken of how well he has been supported at the club.

Those close to Guardiola have always dismissed suggestions he will leave at the end of this season. Last year, when he was approached by Juventus, he told them he may be interested one day but that he would see out his contract with City. Juventus are likely to try again now, and Guardiola’s loyalty is bound to be tested, but if he is true to his previous words then City should not expect him to leave before next summer.


What will happen to City’s star players? 

A lot of this depends on clauses in their contracts, and who inserted them. Regarding Champions League participation, the club may have inserted clauses that would lower the players’ wages if there is no Champions League football, in order to protect their accounts and minimise the losses in television revenue (some £25 million last season). But, if so, the players could argue that the failure to play in the Champions League was not their own fault. Players’ agents may also have thought to insert clauses looking at it from another angle — if City fail to qualify for the Champions League (or if they are banned), their client could leave for a certain fee, effectively a release clause.

Beyond clauses, it would come down to players and their agents arguing the case with City that they should be allowed to leave, if they do indeed want to go. There could well be a long queue of agents asking for their players to be moved on, especially as some of them have thought about going once Guardiola leaves, anyway. Whether they will be sold or not depends on the same factors as always — how long they have on their contract, how much they are willing to force their way out, how much the buying club is willing to pay and how much City are determined to keep hold of them.


What is the financial hit? 

Champions League television income is a major source of revenue for the club, and sources have previously indicated that a year or two out of the competition would be regarded as a major blow. The most simple equation is this: last season City earned £77 million from the Champions League, not including match day revenues. City’s total profit in their most recent account, for 2018-19, was £10.1 million. So in very simple terms, City can most likely forget about turning a profit for the years they are out of the Champions League, if they are not able to overturn the ban at CAS.

The only way to mitigate that would be to lower the wages of their star players, but if there are clauses in those contracts the players could justifiably argue that the ban is not their fault and they should not suffer a loss of earnings. If they were to make significant losses over the two seasons they are out of the Champions League, it could mean they fail FFP in the future and would be banned again.


How does this affect their summer spending?

If City start making major losses they would have to tailor their spending accordingly. Player recruitment is always a huge source of expenditure and, while there are certain ways to spread those costs (for example splitting them across different financial years, or amortising the values over the length of long contracts) it would surely restrict the club’s ability to spend transfer fees over and above any amounts they recoup through sales.

Attracting players of the calibre City have grown used to in recent years is also bound to be incredibly difficult if the club cannot offer Champions League football until 2022-23 at the earliest.


Do City have to abide by FFP during the seasons they are banned from European competition?

Yes, because FFP breaches are judged on cumulative losses of more than £25 million spread over the three previous seasons. So if City were to splurge for two seasons and end up significantly out of pocket during a three-year period, they would fall foul of FFP and not be allowed back into the competition.


Have City learned anything since they were found to have breached FFP rules in 2014?

City paid a £49 million fine — £32 million of which was suspended — and their Champions League squad was reduced for the 2014-15 season.

Since then, they haven’t changed their accounting practices per se. Are they meant to have learned from the 2014 case and changed their ways? Yes, absolutely. That was the basis of the settlement they made.

That settlement also applied to the next season (2015-16) and City were adjudged to have met the terms, which is why UEFA “released” them and paid them the suspended amount of the TV/bonus money they owed the Manchester club. One of City’s defences at CAS was that this recent investigation had no basis because it was dealt with in the 2014 settlement, which UEFA had said had been satisfied and therefore could not be reopened.

But there’s a problem with that. A basic tenet of law is that you can unpick or reopen cases/deals if one party has lied or acted in bad faith by holding key information back. The leaked emails are held to be an example of that: City said they were doing one thing when they appeared to be doing something else.

The final point to make here, though, is that City would meet UEFA’s FFP rules now, two titles later, with bigger gates at the Etihad, new sponsorship deals and the City Football Group. They have changed the equation. But it is how they got here that is the issue.


Have they paid tax on these “overstated sponsorship revenues”?

Yes but, unlike most clubs, they reduce their tax bills by using deferred losses to offset profits.


Why is the punishment a Champions League ban rather than a transfer embargo like Chelsea were handed by FIFA?

UEFA does not have the ability to restrict player registrations — the responsibility for that lies with FIFA, which is why clubs who have fallen foul of FIFA regulations have had transfer bans. UEFA cannot hand out transfer bans per se, but they could at least stop a player from being registered in European competitions, so theoretically they could have stopped a new City player from playing in the Champions League.

But this type of punishment was not written into FFP regulations. UEFA explored it at the very start of FFP but found it was not viable.


What, if anything, does this mean for City’s owners?

As deep a question as there could be! Much of this debate depends on which side of the story you believe: is this an “organised and clear” attempt to damage the club’s reputation, as City have always alleged, or are these allegations completely true, and City have knowingly and systematically broken the rules?

As far as the owners are concerned, that’s not likely to matter. Either they have been genuinely hard done by and will fight the sanctions with all they have got — because they feel a strong sense of injustice — or they know exactly what they have done but they are pretending to be offended to aid their attempts to overturn the ban and continue their quest towards football domination.

The motives of the ownership in the first place are interesting. If they do indeed want to use City as a “proxy brand” for Abu Dhabi, as was claimed by former CEO Garry Cook in an interview with The Athletic, then would it make any sense to pull out now, after investing so much money? Would they be more determined than ever to shake up the football world? Or on the other side of it, do they now consider City’s brand itself so tainted that there is no longer any point in persevering with using the club’s image to improve their own?


Does this have any repercussions for sponsors Etihad and their relationship with City?

Again, this depends on exactly what happened behind the scenes. Will Etihad be aggrieved that the club it is associated with have been found to have broken rules and attracted negative headlines? There will certainly be a reevaluation of the PR approach because big brands, no matter who is pulling the strings, do not want to be associated with troubled organisations. The contents of any statement will be instructive, as they may well point to what is likely to be an ongoing appeals process.


Does this affect City’s women’s team?

The statement released by UEFA said the ban would be imposed “on Manchester City Football Club”. It did not specify that this would only apply to the men’s side. However, since 2015, investment in areas including women’s football, stadiums, training facilities and youth development has not been included in FFP calculations, which therefore means the women’s team are not contributing to the club’s permitted losses.

City’s women’s side has been present in the UEFA Women’s Champions League every season since 2016-17 but have already been eliminated from this season’s competition following defeat to Atletico Madrid at the last-16 stage. They are again in contention for qualifying this season, fighting for one of the two spots alongside Arsenal and Chelsea.

England is due to receive a third qualifying spot for the Women’s Champions League from the 2021-2022 season.


How do City fans feel about this?

It is hard to generalise but the most common reaction was shock — at both the timing of the announcement and the severity of its content.

Beyond that, there is a split in the reasoning. Some feel that the club have been caught bang to rights. Many, however, feel they have been the victim of a long-held UEFA desire to keep them away from the top table.

A common view among City fans (and many outside the club, it should be said) with regard to FFP is that it was designed in principle to stop new, rich clubs from breaking up the established order of more “traditional” clubs, such as Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.

Given the audible response to UEFA and its flagship competition over the years — the booing of the anthem before games — it is fair to say that the overwhelming sentiment is one of hostility towards the governing body.

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Manchester City’s belligerent approach to FFP smacks of extreme arrogance. They deserve to be punished

https://theathletic.com/1609360/2020/02/15/manchester-city-champions-league-ban-punishment/

manchester-city-etihad-stadium-storm-ffp-e1581763385804-1024x683.jpg

The official line is that Manchester City are “disappointed but not surprised”. It is one that reinforces that idea of a stitch-up, a “prejudicial process” at the hands of a kangaroo court, because City still insist that the evidence in their favour is “irrefutable”.

It would be nice for City to share that evidence one day because for now the case against them looks damning. It is why, nearly six years after negotiating and accepting a £49 million fine (two-thirds of which suspended and later refunded) for alleged breaches of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations, we were informed on Friday night that they faced another £25 million fine and, more dramatically, a two-year ban from the Champions League and Europa League.

Of course, City will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) but, for all the bullishness among the club’s hierarchy, UEFA’s announcement last night was an almighty blow to the Premier League champions’ ambitions and indeed to their reputation. Anything less than an overwhelming victory on appeal — a full acquittal, with all sanctions quashed — would be insufficient for a club that has consistently and vehemently protested its innocence.

City stand accused not only of exceeding the maximum losses allowed under UEFA’s FFP regulations but of trying to beat the system by “overstating” sponsorship revenue and, according to UEFA’s adjudicatory chamber, failing to co-operate in the investigation of their case.

The case against City was blown open again in November 2018 when the German newspaper Der Spiegel revealed what it called the Football Leaks files, based on e-mails accessed by an individual since identified as Rui Pinto, a Portuguese national who has been charged with 147 criminal offences including computer hacking, all of which he denies.

City have consistently called those leaks an “organised and clear” attempt to damage the club’s reputation, referring to “out-of-context materials purportedly hacked or stolen from City Football Group and Manchester City personnel and associated people”. The Football Leaks process seemed indiscriminate, though; whether it was shedding light on the finer points of transfer deals and players’ contracts, illegal third-party agreements or secret talks about the possible creation of a breakaway league by leading European clubs. An early mission statement said simply: “This project aims to show the hidden side of football. Unfortunately, the sport we love so much is rotten and it is time to say ‘enough’.”

City would have us believe that their ownership by Sheikh Mansour is an antidote to such rottenness — a pure personal investment by an individual who loves his adopted club and city so much that he paid it a visit in August 2010 — rather than, say, yet another prime example of “sportswashing”, a phenomenon whereby regimes use association with sport in order to launder their image. Put simply, City are to Abu Dhabi what Paris Saint-Germain are to Qatar: a vehicle that has opened up more and more investment opportunities for regimes seeking to diversify their economy, improve their image and expand their global influence. Football clubs, like financial institutions and famous buildings, always seem to be available to the highest bidder.

Petrodollar states are allowed to bankroll football clubs as long as they stay within the rules. And here we come to the subject that attracts furious indignation from some of City’s supporters. For decades, clubs were allowed to spend as much money as they liked. It was not until 2008, the same year their club was bought by the Abu Dhabi United Group, that UEFA decided it was time to regulate spending.

In fact — and this is where City do have a legitimate grievance — FFP was not originally meant to be about controlling expenditure. When the former UEFA president Michel Platini first outlined his determination to clamp down on financial excesses within European football, his target was debt. On the eve of the 2008 Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea, Platini complained that this “unsustainable level of debt (…) is distorting the level playing field in Europe”.

David Taylor, then UEFA’s general secretary, cited “a problem with clubs that secure debt (…) in order to compete at a higher level than their resources would allow”. That was not true of Manchester United, whose debt remains a burden to the club, entirely for the benefit of the Glazer family, but it was certainly true of Chelsea, beneficiaries of a £578 million interest-free loan from Roman Abramovich (which he later wrote off).

By the time FFP was introduced three years later, though, United, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and the rest of the establishment clubs, several of them heavily indebted, had used their influence to persuade UEFA to change focus. It was not, in the end, a clampdown on debt; there was nothing to prevent leveraged buy-outs like the Glazers’ — instead, it was all about sustainability. The financial stability it has brought to European football, relatively speaking, is to be welcomed, but it has also served to reinforce the hierarchies that have built up over the course of the Champions League era.

City, PSG and others are entitled to complain that it left them with precious little time to move towards sustainability between the new regulations and the sanctions starting to bite. City are certainly entitled to argue that their case seems to have been handled less sympathetically than that involving PSG, whose president Nasser al-Khelafi sits on UEFA’s executive committee and has a prominent role at beIN Media Group, which is one of UEFA’s major broadcast partners. City’s own attempts to gain influence in UEFA’s corridors of power have so far been rebuffed.

What City are not entitled to do, though, having signed up to the regulations that allow them a licence to compete in the Champions League, is to try to ride roughshod over the regulations and then expect to avoid punishment.

There is a passage in Der Spiegel’s Football Leaks coverage — the contents of which has never been disputed by City, even if they continue to complain about the context in which things have been presented — that appeared to sum it all up.

The allegation goes that when compiling City’s accounts for 2012-13, the club’s chief financial officer Jorge Chumillas wrote an internal e-mail stating that, due to the cost of sacking Roberto Mancini, “we will have a shortfall of £9.9 million in order to comply with UEFA FFP this season”. Ferran Soriano, the chief executive, is alleged to have replied that this problem could be overcome if City could be paid the contractually stated bonus from their sponsors for winning the FA Cup.

There was just one problem with this. City had lost the FA Cup final to Wigan Athletic.

According to Der Spiegel, a compromise was reached whereby various sponsors — the Abu Dhabi airline Etihad, the Abu Dhabi-based fund Aabar Investments and the Abu Dhabi department for culture and tourism — would have their payments adjusted so that the shortfall was covered. When Chumillas asked whether they would be allowed to change the date of sponsorship payments, Simon Pearce, a board member of City Football Group and a special adviser to the club’s chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak, is alleged to have replied, “Of course. We can do what we want.”

That line appears to sum up the City hierarchy’s approach to the whole FFP question. It has not exactly served them well to this point. There is much to be admired about the work City have done over the past decade — their investment in infrastructure and in high-calibre people at all levels of the club, the development of a strategy and a philosophy summed up by the excellence of Pep Guardiola and his squad over the past two seasons, their commitment to community projects in Manchester — but the hierarchy’s belligerent approach to the FFP challenge smacks of extreme arrogance. What is more, it threatens to undermine so much of that good work, particularly if a Champions League ban causes Guardiola and his players to question their futures at the club.

In fact, it is worth recalling what Guardiola said last March after UEFA reopened their investigation in light of Der Spiegel’s allegations. Of the City hierarchy, he said, “I work with them and have known them for a long time. I trust them a lot. After that we’ll see.” Of the prospect of UEFA’s investigation he said, “If (the outcome) is not good, then ok, we will accept it. If everything is right, then it will finish and we will move forward.”

Football was never meant to come down to accountancy, hacked e-mails and legal representation behind closed doors in Switzerland. Then again it was never intended to come down to a battle between petrodollar states, Russian oligarchs and American real estate investors.

In Platini’s eyes, FFP was going to be all about reducing those influences, bringing the game down to a pure level. It has done nothing of the sort — if anything, European football has become even less of a level playing field than it was before — but the rules are the rules and if you sign up to play in the competition, you have to go along with them. If City have treated those rules and the entire process with total contempt, then they deserve to be punished accordingly.

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52 minutes ago, Jason said:

Not sure if they will punish City this season. I assume the investigation will take some time. The points deduction may happen next season.

Should be docked 20 points for two seasons. 

City will pull a Chelsea 2016/2017 for those two seasons they are banned from Europe. Least this way their actions won't benefit them in the league. 

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