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What punishments could Manchester City face?

After Manchester City was charged with over 100 financial breaches between 2009 and 2018, the club could be facing some serious consequences.


One of the biggest financial scandals in Premier League history has Manchester City facing over 100 allegations of financial breaches to the league rules between 2009 and 2018.

Now, an independent commission will investigate the alleged breaches to decide what punishment the team will face if charged, which could be anywhere from points deduction to league expulsion.

What punishments could Manchester City face?

The Premier League has never faced an issue like this before and the rulebook is just ambiguous enough to allow for any kind of new punishment. There is one section, Category W.51, which says that breaches would allow the commission to make “such other order as it thinks fit”.

“Any penalty must be within the panel’s powers set out in section W.51 but should also be proportionate, while any appeal may relate to findings in relation to the allegations and/or the punishment,” said Stephen Taylor Heath, head of sports law at JMW Solicitors. “Equally the timing of any penalty - if there is one - would be crucial as a points deduction could have vastly different outcomes if retrospective over the relevant period or future seasons.

The independent panel which will hear the claims will be decided by Murray Rosen KC, the chair of the Premier League’s Judicial Panel. The rest will be decided later, but the whole ordeal could take several months.

In 2020, UEFA had pursued and eventually dropped a different financial wrongdoing case against City. This case, however, is much more serious. The charges cover 14 seasons from 2009 to the current 2022-23 season. They are accused of both breaking the UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations in two seasons (13-14, 17-18) and breaking the Premier League rules on profitability and sustainability in two seasons (15-16, 17-18).

If these strong allegations are proven, Manchester City could even be looking at relegation. The punishment of points deduction is perhaps more likely, though it has not happened to many other teams before. In 1996, Middlesborough was deducted three points for illegally postponing a game, and just this season, Juventus was docked 15 points after “financial irregularities” and “false accounting”.

Unlike Juventus, who can appeal for the points reduction to be reduced if they succeed, City would not be able to appeal any sanction under Cas since the European court is not recognized by the teams.

“I think the preferred punishment would be for a points deduction,” said soccer finance expert Kieran Maguire. “Because the argument would be that if it was just a financial punishment, given the wealth of the owners, given that it is effectively a sovereign wealth fund, which is the benefactors of Manchester City, that a financial penalty would not actually particularly harm the club.”

Guardiola’s stance

Whatever happens, City manager Pep Guardiola has made it clear that he will not stay with the club if they are found guilty.

Back in May, Guardiola said this:

“Why did I defend the club and the people? It’s because I work with them. 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.’”

Manchester City responded to the claims with a statement saying that they were shocked by the allegations and welcomed the review and “look forward to this matter being put to rest once and for all”.

City has won six Premier League titles since the takeover by Sheikh Mansour in 2008, inlcuding three during the period of alleged breaches.

“If we were talking about Southampton, if we were talking about Brentford, if we were talking about a small club like Crystal Palace, you and I would not be having this conversation,” said Maguire.


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