I imagine Man City fans are feeling a much darker shade of blue with the prospect of massive fines, or even relegation from the Premier League currently a threat. As was widely reported recently the Premier League has accused City of 115 infringements across 14 seasons, following a four-year investigation into alleged financial irregularities, writes David Little, a Partner in our Commercial department who increasingly handles Sports Law cases too.
Given the complexity and breadth of the charges, the case can be expected to be quite a lengthy process but none of this will help the Premier League or the European League run a successful season, if City’s results subsequently have to be declared null and void.
As was reported here among the charges levelled at City are allegations that the club: failed to fully disclose Roberto Mancini’s salary during his four years as manager; failed to present an accurate picture of club revenue, including from sponsorship; failed to comply with Uefa Financial Fair Play rules; and failed to co-operate with the League’s investigation.
In 2020, following a similar Uefa probe, City were hit with a £26.8million fine and two-year Champions League ban, only for the fine to be reduced and the ban overturned, following a successful appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The CAS avenue will not be available to City in this instance, as Premier League clubs do not recognise the body, but the club will still be entitled to an appeal in London courts, which could further delay the application of any punishment if found guilty.
Demands for City’s expulsion from the League by other clubs are unlikely given the high profile that would thrust on the complaining clubs, but I am aware of at least one club that has reportedly taken legal advice over its next steps should the alleged breaches be proven by the independent commission.
As the Evening Standard reported, “City have been English football’s dominant force across the period of alleged wrongdoing, which stretches back to the 2009-10 season. In that time, City have won six Premier League titles, six Carabao Cups and the FA Cup twice. They have also played Champions League football in every campaign since 2011-12.
“City’s success has seen a host of rival clubs miss out on trophies, as well as qualification for European competition and subsequent financial windfalls. In the extreme scenario of City’s performances being expunged from the record, Manchester United and Liverpool would each have won the title a further three times, while Arsenal and Tottenham would have qualified for the Champions League on three and four more occasions, respectively. Leicester, Everton and Chelsea have all also missed out on at least one top-four finish across the same period.”
Imagine unwinding all that…
Early indications are that punishments are more likely to be imposed moving forwards than issued retrospectively, but all options are on the table. City have strongly denied the allegations of wrongdoing and are expected to fight their corner in the strongest possible manner.
Contact our Sports Lawyer
David Little, is a Partner in the Corporate & Commercial team and also Head of Sports Law for the firm. If you would like to contact him please quote Ref CB381 on either 020 7631 4141 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The above is accurate as at 11 February 2023. The information above may be subject to change during these ever-changing times. The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.