Manchester City charged by Premier League with numerous alleged breaches of financial rules; Premier League has referred the case to an independent commission; Man City say they are "surprised by the issuing of these alleged breaches", adding they "welcome the review of this matter"
Tuesday 7 February 2023 12:51, UK
Manchester City say they are "surprised" to have been charged by the Premier League with numerous alleged breaches of financial rules.
The alleged breaches span a period from the 2009-10 season to the 2017-18 campaign.
The club are alleged to have breached league rules requiring provision "in utmost good faith" of "accurate financial information that gives a true and fair view of the club's financial position".
The league says the accurate financial information required related to "revenue (including sponsorship revenue), its related parties and its operating costs".
The second set of breaches listed refers to alleged breaking of rules "requiring a member club to include full details of manager remuneration in its relevant contracts with its manager" related to seasons 2009-10 to 2012-13 inclusive.
The club's manager between December 2009 and May 2013 was current Italy boss Roberto Mancini.
The second set of alleged breaches also refers to requirements for a club to include full details of player remuneration within the relevant contracts, for the seasons 2010-11 to 2015-16 inclusive.
The third section deals with alleged breaches of Premier League rules requiring clubs to comply with UEFA financial fair play regulations, between 2013-14 to 2017-18.
In 2020, Man City had a two-year ban from European football overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), after being handed a suspension by UEFA's club financial control body (CFCB) in February 2020 for "serious breaches" of club licensing and financial fair play regulations.
The fourth set of alleged breaches relates to the Premier League's profitability and sustainability rules in seasons 2015-16 to 2017-18 inclusive.
Finally, the club are alleged to have breached league rules requiring member clubs to co-operate with and assist the Premier League with its investigations, from December 2018 to date.
The Premier League - which opened its investigation in March 2019 - has referred the alleged offences to an independent commission.
In a statement, the Premier League said: “In accordance with Premier League rule W.82.1, the Premier League confirms that it has today [February 6 2023] referred a number of alleged breaches of the Premier League rules by Manchester City Football Club to a commission under Premier League rule W.3.4.
“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.
“The proceedings before the commission will, in accordance with Premier League rule W.82, be confidential and heard in private. Under Premier League rule W.82.2, the commission’s final award will be published on the Premier League’s website.
“This confirmation is made in accordance with Premier League rule W.82.1. The Premier League will be making no further comment in respect of this matter until further notice.”
As well as expressing their surprise at the charges, Man City also claimed to have provided "extensive engagement" and a "vast amount of detailed materials" to the Premier League's investigation.
"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," read the statement.
"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."
Man City are said to feel that journalists were briefed about the charges before they were, while there have been questions regarding the timing of the announcement, given the imminent publication of a white paper by the government that could lead to an independent regulator in football.
However, it is understood the announcement of the charges was unrelated to the white paper and that no briefings were made before the statement was published on the Premier League website.
The independent commission will be formed of three members, who will be selected by Murray Rosen KC, the chair of the Premier League's judicial panel.
The three-person commission can include any of the 15 members of the judicial panel, as well as non-members.
Once a judgement is made, the Premier League and Man City will be able to appeal - although it cannot be taken to the CAS.
Instead, Rosen would appoint an appeal panel made up of new members. There are currently six members of the Premier League appeal panel.
Sky Sports News' chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol:
"Man City have been charged with breaking the Premier League's financial fair play rules around 100 times over a nine-year period, which starts in 2009 and goes on until 2018.
"The Premier League's financial fair play rules are designed to ensure clubs pretty much spend what they earn. You can get round that potentially by inflating how much you're earning or hiding how much you are spending.
"According to the Premier League, Man City allegedly broke the rules over nine seasons. They didn't provide accurate financial information.
"Allegedly they did not fully disclose the financial remunerations that were made to one of their managers over a four-year period. That is the suggestion that there was a secret contract so one of the managers was getting paid much more than officially stated.
"They also allege that Man City didn't comply with UEFA's financial fair play rules over a five-year period. They also allege that Man City have not fully co-operated with the Premier League's investigation.
"This is a very serious matter for Man City.
"In the past when they've been investigated by UEFA, they've always insisted they have done nothing wrong. In February 2020, they were banned by UEFA from European competition for two seasons and also fined €30m.
"They took that case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The ban was overturned and the fine was reduced to €10m. At the hearing, the panel found most of the breaches alleged were not established or the time was barred, which effectively means they happened too long ago for UEFA to do anything about them.
"Crucially, Premier League rules do not include time bar so when Man City defend themselves, they cannot say these alleged offences took place too long ago for you to be able to do anything about them.
"According to the Premier League rules, it can be a points deduction or even the threat of expulsion from the Premier League, although I think that would be an extreme punishment.
"But if it was a points deduction, it would be a deduction that would be in the current season, so if they were found guilty in a future season, that's when the points deduction would be applied.
"I don't think it's going to be anything that happens very quickly so I would discount the chances of anything happening this season. This investigation has already been going on for five years, so I don't anticipate it being dealt with quickly. This is something that is going to go on for a long time yet."
Speaking in May 2022, Man City boss Pep Guardiola explained why he had backed the club after they were charged by UEFA with breaching financial fair play regulations.
"I truly, truly believe," he said. "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 you will not be my friend anymore.
"I put my faith in you because I believe you 100 per cent from day one."
Stephen Taylor Heath, JMW head of sports law, speaking to Sky Sports News:
"The commission will have a legal representative on the panel, and you'd expect that representative to be a pretty heavyweight King's Counsel.
"Manchester City have had an obligation to comply with the Premier League's investigation and they now have an obligation to comply with the commission's procedure. If they don't comply then a dim view will be taken.
"If the charges relate to administrative errors then the sanctions will be a slap on the wrist. You would think, if the Premier League have taken it this far, they either think there is a case to answer or they've simply got to the point where they haven't been given the answers, and they're now putting it to a commission to get those answers."
Sky Sports News' reporter Vinny O'Connor:
"In regards to the anger City are feeling, what we're hearing is part of that is due to the fact a telephone call was taking place between the club and Premier League this morning and that was the first inkling the club had in regards to the Premier League's stance on this.
"There is a feeling from City that journalists have been briefed beforehand rather than City being given advance notice of what was to come.
"On top of that, we also hear that there's note been taken from City of the timing of these alleged breaches as well. Everyone knows there is a white paper due which could end up with an independent regulation of football.
"There's a feeling around the club that this is a bit of political manoeuvring on the Premier League's side that they can keep their own house in order. That's where the timing of this announcement comes from as well."