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Manchester City were flourishing under Pep Guardiola this time 12 months ago.
Now, they’re nowhere near claiming their third straight Premier League title and staring in the face of a punishment that could risk everything the club has built over the last decade.
UEFA have banned City from the Champions League for the next two seasons after finding them guilty of ‘serious breaches’ regarding Financial Fair Play regulations.
The accompanying €30 million (£25 million) fine is probably the least of their worries compared to other potential ramifications.
The Premier League are reportedly ‘highly likely’ to issue a points deduction, while Pep Guardiola is thought to be considering walking away if the ruling isn’t overturned.
City delivered a stinging response to the decision on Friday, suggesting they’re confident the charges will be dropped when they appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
It will be fascinating to see how the club might build a credible defence in what appears to be a precarious situation for the centrepiece of the City Football Group.
For example, renowned journalist Nick Harris has published an email allegedly detailing how City circumvented FFP by misrepresenting where money came from.
Said to be sent from the club’s former Chief Financial Officer Graham Wallace in 2012, it appears to reveal how City concealed owner funding and partnership income.
“We have an operational business need to be able to show separately the cash receipts into our bank account that relate to partnership income versus those that relate to direct equity funding,” it reads.
“What we therefore need is that the monies we are attributing to Etisalat, ADTA, Aabar and Etihad, as shown, are physically remitted to us by those businesses, as opposed to a combined receipt of partner/equity funding all remitted in one lump – we need this to be able to demonstrate the separation of ownership funding from Abu Dhabi based partner monies, to avoid any related party influence/control considerations.”
Under the guise of being “for audit purposes”, it’s difficult to overlook the irony of how the situation has played out.
You can read the full email below…
If correspondence of this nature is deemed as admissible evidence, City really do have their backs against the wall.
Only time will tell if the Citizens are found guilty, but hopefully, the events playing out serve as a warning regardless.
CITY MAY FACE POINT DEDUCTION
The footballing world was rocked last night after the news of Manchester City’s impending two-year ban from the Champions League.
Pep Guardiola’s side were found to have violated the Financial Fair Play rulings put in place by UEFA, with a €30m fine also administered to the current Premier League champions.
City will appeal the case after writing that they were ‘disappointed but not surprised’ in a club statement responding to the verdict.
The news has sent shockwaves across the world of sport and it’s left many wondering; what comes next?
Well, the punishments are likely to keep on coming for City, because the Independent report that the Premier League are now ‘highly likely’ to deduct points from the club.
Due to the fact that England’s top-flight abides by UEFA’s FFP rulings, they will have no option but to enforce sanctions of their own.
The news will have virtually zero impact on the title race – due to Liverpool’s current 22-point lead at the top – but it could prove very significant down the line.
Were City able to overturn UEFA’s verdict, they would be able to qualify for the Champions League in 2020/21 by finishing in the top four.
However, the Premier League’s punishment would still be in place and that points deduction may see City lose ground in their bid to qualify for Europe’s premiere competition.
The Independent also inserted a very interesting line about potential Premier League expulsion for City.
Miguel Delaney wrote: “While no one sees an expulsion from the Premier League as likely, the Football League have recently changed their rules so that any club in that situation must start again in League Two.”
Imagine the scenes City were demoted to the fourth-tier and lost all of their star names!
The 2019/20 season just gets better and better for Liverpool…