Man City charged over alleged financial rules breaches: Premier League investigation and potential punishments
Manchester City have reportedly launched a legal fight against charges brought against them by the Premier League.
City were this year accused of more than 100 alleged breaches of the competition's financial rules.
The Premier League said it would be referring the charges against reigning English champions, who have won four of the past five top-flight titles under Pep Guardiola, to an independent commission.
Following a four-year investigation looking into City's financial dealings over a nine-year period, the Premier League confirmed its allegations against the club on February 6.
Man City said they were "surprised by the issuing of these alleged breaches" and welcomed the prospect of an independent commission that would "impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence" that supports the club's position.
Below, The Sporting News looks to break down exactly what's happened and the potential fallout of a major story that won't be going away from the spotlight anytime soon.
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What have Man City been charged with?
Through a statement on February 6, the Premier League alleged that Man City breached rules requiring "accurate financial information that gives a true and fair view of the club's financial position."
Information includes the club's revenue, sponsorship revenue and operating costs, with the alleged rule-breaking taking place between 2009 and 2018. City won the Premier League three times during that period.
Alleged breaches also relate to rules requiring full details of manager remuneration during Roberto Mancini's reign from the 2009/10 to 2012/13 seasons and player remuneration between 2010/11 and 2015/16.
The Premier League also accused the club of not fully co-operating with their investigation, which began in December 2018.
Here is the full list of charges brought against the club by the Premier League.
1. In respect of each of Seasons 2009/10 to 2017/18 inclusive, the Premier League Rules applicable in those seasons that required provision by a member club to the Premier League, in the utmost good faith, of accurate financial information that gives a true and fair view of the club’s financial position, in particular with respect to its revenue (including sponsorship revenue), its related parties and its operating costs, namely:
(a) for Season 2009/10, Premier League Rules B.13, C.71, C.72, C.75 (amended to C.79 from 10 September 2009 for the remainder of Season 2009/10) and C.80;
(b) for Season 2010/11, Premier League Rules B.13, C.78, C.79, C.86 and C.87;
(c) for Season 2011/12, Premier League Rules B.13, E.3, 4, E.11 and E.12;
(d) for Season 2012/13, Premier League Rules 16, E.3, E.4, E.11 and E.12;
(e) for Season 2013/14, Premier League Rules 15, E.3, E.4, E.11, E.12 and E.49;
(f) for Season 2014/15, Premier League Rules 16, E.3, E.4, E.11, E.12 and E.50;
(g) for Season 2015/16, Premier League Rules 16, E.3, E.4, E.11, E.12 and E.50;
(h) for Season 2016/17, Premier League Rules16, E.3, E.4, E.11, E.12 and E.51; and
(i) for Season 2017/18, Premier League Rules B.16, 3, E.4, E.11, E.12 and E.51.
2. In respect of:
(a) each of Seasons 2009/10 to 2012/13 inclusive, the Premier League Rules applicable in those Seasons requiring a member club to include full details of manager remuneration in its relevant contracts with its manager, namely:
(1) for Seasons 2009/10 to 2011/12 inclusive, Premier League Rules Q.7 and Q.8; and
(2) for Season 2012/13, Premier League Rules P.7 and P.8; and
(b) each of Seasons 2010/11 to 2015/16 inclusive, the Premier League Rules applicable in those Seasons requiring a member club to include full details of player remuneration in its relevant contracts with its players, namely:
(1) for Seasons 2010/11 and 2011/12, Premier League Rules K.12 and K.20;
(2) for Season 2012/13, Premier League Rules T.12 and T.20;
(3) for Seasons 2013/14 and 2014/15, Premier League Rules T.12 and T.19; and
(4) for Season 2015/16, Premier League Rules T.13 and T.20.
3. In respect of each of Seasons 2013/14 to 2017/18 inclusive, the Premier League Rules applicable in those Seasons requiring a member club to comply with UEFA’s regulations, including UEFA’s Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations, namely:
(a) for Season 2013/14, Premier League Rule B.14.6; and
(b) for Seasons 2014/15 to 2017/18 inclusive, Premier League Rule B.15.6.
4. In respect of each of the Seasons 2015/16 to 2017/18 inclusive, the Premier League Rules applicable in those Seasons on Profitability and Sustainability, namely:
(a) for Season 2015/16, Premier League Rules E.52 to E.60; and
(b) for Seasons 2016/17 and 2017/18, Premier League Rules E.53 to E.60.
5. In respect of the period from December 2018 to date, the Premier League Rules applicable in the relevant Seasons requiring a member club to cooperate with, and assist, the Premier League in its investigations, including by providing documents and information to the Premier League in the utmost good faith, namely:
(a) for Season 2018/19, Premier League Rules B.16, B.19, W.1, W.2, W.12 and W.13;
(b) for Season 2019/20, Premier League Rules B.16, B.19, W.1, W.2, W.12 and W.13;
(c) for Season 2020/21, Premier League Rules B.16, B.19, W.1, W.2, W.12 and W.13;
(d) for Season 2021/22, Premier League Rules B.15, B.18, W.1, W.2, W.15 and W.16; and
(e) for Season 2022/23, Premier League Rules B.15, B.18, W.1, W.2, W.15 and W.16.
Commissions are independent of the Premier League and member clubs. The members of the Commission will be appointed by the independent Chair of the Premier League Judicial Panel, in accordance with Premier League Rules W.19, W.20 and W.26."
#OnThisDay: @robymancio was appointed #ManCity manager — City Xtra (@City_Xtra) December 19, 2022
🔵 191 Games
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🏅 #PL Manager of the Month [x2] pic.twitter.com/PGgszmcK9F
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What have Man City said about the allegations?
A statement from the club on February 6 read: "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 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."
On May 18, The Times reported that City had launched a legal challenge against the charges. According to the report, the club are "disputing the legality of the investigation" and are concerned about the impartiality of the barrister in charge of the disciplinary process because he is said to be an Arsenal fan.
In May 2022, manager Pep Guardiola revealed he would quit the club if his bosses ever lied to him about any wrongdoing at the top level.
"Why did I defend the club and the people? It's because I work with them," Guardiola said at the time. "When they are accused of something I ask them: 'Tell me about that.'
"They explain and I believe them. I said to them: 'If you lie to me, the day after, I am not here. I will be out and I will not be your friend any more. I put my faith in you because I believe you 100 per cent from day one and I defend the club because of that.'"
Will Man City face sanctions or punishments if found guilty?
We are a long way off finding out whether City will face any punishment if they are found guilty of any of the alleged breaches brought against them by the Premier League.
Given the investigation has taken four years to complete, you would expect City be given plenty of time to respond to the allegations and their latest legal challenge will, at the very least, prolong the entire process. We could be looking at years instead of months until this matter is properly settled.
According to Martin Ziegler of The Times, there are a "range of sanctions" possible if found guilty, including points deductions. Reports also suggest fines, transfer embargoes or even expulsion from the league are potential punishments.
😳 “There’s no doubting the severity! Nothing like this has ever happened!”— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) February 6, 2023
❌ “Even if half of these 100+ charges are proved, the other clubs will expect that Man City will be relegated.”@MartynZiegler reacts to #MCFC’s PL financial rule breach charges. pic.twitter.com/v12QyFoBIZ
Have Man City ever broken Financial Fair Play rules?
In 2014, Man City accepted a conditional £49 million fine and restrictions on their Champions League squad size and incoming transfers after being found guilty of breaching UEFA's FFP rules.
"In normal circumstances the club would wish to pursue its case and present its position through every avenue of recourse," City said after settling the case with UEFA. "However, our decision to do so must be balanced against the practical realities for our fans, for our partners and in the interests of the commercial operations of the club."
In February 2020, Man City were separately accused by UEFA of "serious" breaches of the governing body's financial fair play rules between 2012 and 2016 following an investigation prompted by leaked documents published by Der Spiegel.
The club strongly denied the allegations and a two-year ban from European competition was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in July 2020. The original £25m fine was also reduced to £9m.
At the time, CAS ruled: "Most of the alleged breaches were either not established or time-barred." City said the outcome of the appeal was "validation of the club's position and the body of evidence that it was able to present".
However, under Premier League rules, there is no similar restriction on the length of time since an alleged offence.