Upon Everton receiving a 10-point deduction for breaching Financial Fair Play rules, the football world is bracing itself to see if Manchester City will be punished for their alleged breaches.
In February, City were charged with 115 alleged financial breaches over nine years, from the 2009/10 season up to the 2017/18 campaign. The charges include details relating to player and manager remuneration, accuracy of financial information, not cooperating with an investigation, profitability and sustainability, and not handing over documents as required over five seasons from 2018/19 to 2022/23 campaign.
In an official statement, City said they were ‘surprised’ at the issuing of the alleged breaches, and welcomed the matter being reviewed by an independent commission.
Sky Sports claimed earlier this year that potential sanctions could include a points deduction, compensation, an order to pay costs, or, in a much harsher punishment, expulsion from the Premier League.
If a points deduction is indeed applied to the Premier League champions, it is unclear whether it would be awarded solely for the current season or whether it would be done retrospectively across any of the nine seasons the Premier League has been investigating.
Back in 2020, a Daily Mail report claimed that the club could potentially lose their 2014 league title if they were found to have breached UEFA’s own FFP rules in a separate investigation by European football’s governing body.
City were initially found guilty by UEFA and banned from the Champions League for two seasons, while also being fined €30m (£26m). However, City later won their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which overturned the club’s ban from European competition and reduced their fine to €10m (£8.7m).
Finance expert Kieran Maguire told Sky Sports earlier this year that it would be “difficult” for rival clubs to prove they had missed out on silverware because of City’s alleged breaches – a potential blow for the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United, who have all lost out to City in Premier League title races in recent seasons.
Maguire said: “It will be difficult for another club to say that they lost a title or lost probably more in access to the Champions League.”
There is no precedent for teams being stripped of titles in English football’s history, yet, in 1990 Swindon Town were charged with 35 cases of illegal payments made to players over a four-year period.
After pleading guilty to the 36 charges brought to them by the Football League and a further 20 infringements relating to financial irregularities the club were denied promotion to the First Division and relegated to the Third Division – reduced to one relegation to the Second Division on appeal.
Following Everton’s point deduction, Maguire explained why the situation surrounding City’s alleged FFP breaches is yet to be resolved.
He explained: “A deep dive into the Everton case by the Independent Commission into charges brought by the Premier League suggests that points deductions will be the method of punishing clubs in future cases.
“Everton had asked for a financial penalty in respect of their overspending and cited a variety of reasons, including Covid, Ukraine, a player who was suspended following an arrest as well as some accounting arguments, as to why their case should be viewed sympathetically by the Commission.
“Richard Masters. the Premier League CEO did indicate when he gave evidence that a standard six-point penalty would be the recommended punishment going forward, plus an additional point for every £5 million over the allowed loss limit.
“Manchester City have been charged with 115 offences, that can effectively be summarised into three areas, artificially inflating income, artificially decreasing costs, and not co-operating with the Premier League.
“The total financial impact of these charges is unknown, but, if significant, and most of all, proven, could result in a record points deduction for the club.
“Some people have wondered why a judgement on the Manchester City case has not taken place already. The Everton case, which covered a much narrower topic, involved 40,000 documents, the Manchester City one is likely to be far bigger in terms of evidence from both the prosecution and the defence.
“Chelsea were also subject to accusations in the media recently, and could as a result be subject to charges themselves which again would potentially result in another points deduction in due course.”