Manchester City are facing 101 charges of alleged rule breaking from the Premier League, ranging from assisting league investigations, profitability and sustainability to manager remuneration and accuracy of financial information
Wednesday 8 February 2023 09:51, UK
As Manchester City face 101 charges of alleged rule breaking from the Premier League, the British press and columnists have reacted to the unprecedented event.
The alleged breaches span a nine-year period from the 2009-10 season to the 2017-18 campaign.
The club are alleged to have broken 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".
Man City later said they were "surprised" by the charges, which will now be reviewed by an independent commission, with proceedings to be heard in private.
With the potential to change the face of the Premier League as we know it, British journalists have offered their view and what could come next.
Manchester City's hopes of making Jude Bellingham the centrepiece of a big summer revamp could be complicated by the storm engulfing the club, writes James Ducker in Wednesday's Daily Telegraph.
Bellingham is arguably the most sought-after player in Europe and Ducker states City have money to spend on a "summer rebuild" with the likes of Joao Cancelo and Bernardo Silva facing uncertain futures.
However, the charges "have thrown a potential spanner into the works" ahead of what is anticipated to be a very busy summer for the club with the threat of sanctions hanging over the club "could yet prove a deterrent or obstacle for some players and compromise City's rebuilding plan".
The Guardian's chief sports writer Barney Ronay raises the issues of how the charges against Manchester City could impact the wider football pyramid.
He says while "football stopped being a fairytale some time ago", the competitiveness of the game hinges on the notion that every club is playing by the same rules. Fan emotions and lives are tied up in following their club.
If Man City are found guilty of achieving success with incorrect financial records, it will break that spell for many fans and City could face "commensurately harsh" repercussions.
The Times reporter Paul Hirst writes that the stakes could not be higher in this battle and gives a "doomsday scenario" where Pep Guardiola could leave, along with their star players, the club being stripped of their titles and relegated from the Premier League.
The Times back page - February 7
He also discusses Man City's suspicions over the timing of the Premier League charges ahead of a proposed government white paper on wider regulation in football.
The Telegraph's chief football correspondent Jason Burt says that the charges show "Premier League clubs are at war", pointing out the nine teams who wrote to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in March 2020 to argue that City should be excluded from Europe during their case with UEFA, but the appeal was ultimately successful.
He goes on to call the scale of the charges "unprecedented and potentially seismic" for English football, adding that City should be harshly punished if found to be guilty.
Burt suggests that there should be large points deductions and restrictions on how City can operate in the transfer window, although does not go as far as to say the club should be excluded from the Premier League.
However, he concludes: "If the charges stick and the book is thrown at them then City can have no complaint. They will also have spoiled their own history."
The Telegraph back page - February 7
His colleague, The Telegraph's Northern football correspondent James Ducker, focuses on the task now facing Man City boss Guardiola.
He points out that the manager has looked under pressure recently as Man City's form falters on the pitch, but has previously used the issue of the club's finances to rally the club to a "siege mentality", referring to the nine clubs who wrote to the CAS three years ago as recently as Friday.
However, Ducker says Guardiola must now steel himself for another fight with a new set of charges from the Premier League.
Ducker also writes the EFL will not have to automatically accept City as they have no obligation to do so.
The article reads: "Since the EFL - which covers the Championship, League One and League Two - cannot have more than 72 clubs, it is also unclear how City would be accommodated in such a scenario without a change in regulations.
"Expulsion and relegation are not the same thing - the Premier League's independent disciplinary commission have the power to expel a club but there is no provision in the rules for them to relegate one.
"Sources suggested the situation points to 'another gap in football governance' at a time when the Government will shortly publish a long-awaited white paper proposing reforms to shake up football."
In The Athletic, football writer Jack Pitt-Brooke says of the Premier League charges: "No members' club willingly goes to war in public with its richest member (and by far its most successful of recent years)."
However, while none of Man City's success over the last 15 years would have been possible without their current owners, he says there may be some "overdue untangling" between the club and their ownership.
While Man City may yet be stripped of their Premier League titles, Pitt-Brooke says the fans will not forget those moments and will continue to support the club no matter who holds the purse strings.
Sky News sports correspondent Rob Harris discusses how Man City went from winning two titles in their first 128 years to six Premier League trophies since 2012, with the funding from Abu Dhabi and Sheikh Mansour's takeover giving the club "unimaginable spending" power.
Harris also says any findings of wrongdoing would be damaging to the reputation of both City and the sports investment project for the United Arab Emirates.
The Sun chief sports writer Dave Kidd looks at how some of the Premier League's most iconic moments could be viewed if Man City are found guilty of the alleged charges.
He writes: "Those triumphs would be tainted, condemned as the products of cheating, with asterisks alongside them in the record books."
In the Independent, senior football correspondent Richard Jolly does not foresee a points deduction big enough to relegate Man City, or see their previous league titles awarded to the runners-up from each season - "not least because of the damage it would do to the division's credibility," he writes.
He also says Man City still want two things - a Champions League title and the acceptance they have won their recent silverware fairly.
Many Premier League clubs want Manchester City to be kicked out of the division if they are found guilty of breaking rules over nine seasons.
The Premier League's most severe punishment in these circumstances would be to expel City and it has been reported that the English Football League would be under no obligation to accept them.
There is a feeling that taking away City's titles retrospectively would be meaningless and cause confusion, but a fine is also not likely to have much of an effect.
The clubs who had been pressing hardest for action until Monday were some the other members of the so-called 'big six': Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham.
Premier League clubs do not want to get involved in the process, which is in the hands of an independent commission.