Following Everton’s recent FFP punishment, an unprecedented punishment in the Premier League, many football around the country and in the sporting world in general and wondering what might happen to Manchester City — or, in some cases, why something hasn’t happened already.
The Toffees saw a record 10-point deduction in the top-flight table as a result of breaking UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations following a league-wide audit of the clubs’ records for the 2021/22 season, in which they were found to have breached profit and sustainability rules.
Everton are said to have posted losses of nearly £372 million over a three-year period — a whole £250m more than is permitted within the league guidelines — and while they are obviously appealing the case based on various mitigating factors, it has placed one big elephant back in the room: Man City.
Burnley, Leeds, Leicester and Southampton, who were all relegated in recent seasons, could also be set to sue the Merseyside club for suffering as a result of their infringements, but with the Blues’ mammoth list of charges still looming large, it begs the question why hasn’t their case been dealt with first?
While the storm might be circling around Goodison Park at present, with Everton now on just four points and second from bottom as we approach Christmas, the City Football Group (CFG) still has 115 charges said to span nearly a decade to their name and little action has been taken.
Having been flagged for breaches back in February, a month before Everton’s finances were first referred to an independent commission, not to mention Manchester United having been swiftly fined for a minor FFP breach of their own, there does seem to be an issue with parity.
Well, the short answer is that Manchester City and the CFG haven’t been found guilty of anything, at least not yet. Whatever punishment they may or may not receive remains unknown as the investigation into their litany of charges is still ongoing and will likely take some time to reach its conclusion.
After all, compared to examining some bookkeeping discrepancies across three years, we’re talking about more than 100 different charges over the course of nine years and, for context, the last investigation (of which they were cleared) took around four years.
With that in mind, when taking into account the equally lengthy appeal processes that will be involved as well, as the club has insisted they are not guilty of the various UEFA breaches they are accused of, you can expect this case to rumble on for a quite while longer.
Moreover, if they are indeed found guilty, the process of going about punishment will prove to be even more complicated as how do you possibly go about deciding on a fair outcome and adequate compensation for other teams affected over such a lengthy period?
Sporting Intelligence journalist and football finance expert, Nick Harris, recently gave a lengthy explanation on The Rest is Football podcast, insisting that “there is just so much work that needed to be done to get to the point of charging them.”
Harris went on to add that “the other reason it has taken so long is because Man City have done what they can to stifle the process.
“In 2021 we were investigating what was happening with this case and, eventually, as a journalist I was able to get access to the high court and be able to report the process was ongoing when neither the Premier League nor Manchester City wanted it to be reported.
“What that told us was that Man City were using every legal tool they could to draw this out as long as possible and even since they were charged in February; they for example have challenged the legitimacy of the Premier League even to act against them which in itself is taking months to even get to the point where a commission will sit down and look at the evidence.”
So, the fact of the matter is that regardless of frustration amongst rival fans, neutrals and Toffees supporters, in particular, it looks like this already long, drawn-out case will very much be a waiting game.
Whether Everton’s points deduction is just a small taster of what’s to come for City remains to be seen but it seems hard to imagine the club possibly walking away with a slap on the wrist like last time.
When the news first began circulating, we broke down what the possible repercussions could be but, if found guilty, what do you think would be a fitting punishment?
Manchester United issue response after banning Manchester Evening News and select journalists from press conference
The Manchester Evening News (MEN) along with a number of sports journalists have reportedly been banned from attending a Manchester United press conference after publishing a story on an apparent rift at the club, claiming that manager Erik ten Hag has ‘lost the dressing room’.
Citing the reason behind the ban as being due to Chief Man United Writer and well-known sports reporter, Samuel Luckhurst’s recent story, which claimed that ten Hag is “losing the confidence” of his players, he and at least three other journalists won’t be in attendance after Sky Sports went so far as to suggest as much as “50%” of the dressing room.
It is thought that Sky‘s chief reporter Kaveh Solekhol, David McDonnell of The Mirror and ESPN‘s Rob Dawson are among the other individuals to have been barred from joining this afternoon’s presser as per instruction from United‘s Director of Media Relations and Public Affairs, Andrew Ward.
Issuing a statement to The Manc and journalists across the country, the club said: “We’re taking action against a number of news organisations today, not for publishing stories we don’t like, but for doing so without contacting us first to give us the opportunity to comment, challenge or contextualise.
“We believe this is an important principle to defend and we hope it can lead to a re-set in the way we work together.” It is unclear how long the suspension is set to be upheld but it is likely they will only serve a one-match ban — pardon the pun.
The MEN reiterated that the initial story was “multiply-sourced”, adding that they had not been banned as a result of previous stories that were largely seen as critical of the Man United head coach and/or his squad, including prior claims players were starting to “doubt” his tactics and managerial style.
Furthermore, the outlet goes on to state that several other journalists have claimed they were prevented from asking questions in press conferences by Ward in the past “over perceived negative coverage”, adding that the club have expressed their “regret” over having to issue the ban. The move has been welcomed by many fans, with several saying it is reminiscent of Sir Alex Ferguson’s hardline approach to the media.
Man United have made one of their worst starts to a campaign in decades and, despite winning their first trophy in six years under the Dutchman with an EFL Cup win last season, have unfortunately been breaking all manner of unwanted records of late.
ten Hag’s team suffered another disappointing loss against Newcastle at the end of November and now face another tricky task as they prepare to face a Chelsea side who are starting to gather some semblance of form.
Countless Reds and neutrals alike will no doubt now be tuning in for his pre-match press conference at 1:30pm ahead of the mid-week Premier League fixture against the West Londoners on Wednesday night (8:15pm kick-off).
The former Ajax manager has made no secret of the troubles he faced when he first arrived at Old Trafford but is clearly keen to avoid others from airing any of their rumoured dirty laundry.
Featured Images — The Manc Group/Manchester United
Manchester United are once again opening up Old Trafford and Red Café for ‘Warm Hub’ evenings
Manchester United are once again opening their doors to people in need this winter as they kick off the 2023 season of ‘Warm Hub’ evenings at Old Trafford.
The community support initiative is returning after the success of last year’s campaign which welcomed locals through the doors to Man United’s iconic home ground and the attached Red Café, helping thousands stay warm, grab a hot drink and a snack, as well as socialise with others.
Focusing on those vulnerable during the colder months, as well as those who might feel worried or lonely during the festive period, United‘s Warm Hubs proved to be a truly impactful resource to many Mancunians in 2022 and will no doubt do the same this year.
Starting from Monday, 4 December and repeating every week right through until January, the area will be available to everyone and completely free, staying open from 5-8pm every session.
To sign up for the Warm Hub evenings — part of the wider ‘United By Your Side’ campaign — people can arrive at Old Trafford and register via the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand reception and will then be guided into the Red Café where they can grab a brew and something to eat.
Completely open to the public, the United Foundation will also be delivering a multi-layered approach to support the local community this time around, hoping to be an even more vital outlet to people around Greater Manchester than ever.
In addition to the obvious physical benefits of the warm space, the club want the ground to be a welcoming place for those looking for social connection over the holidays and beyond to spend time with others in friendly and safe surroundings.
As a charity supporting children and young people, the Foundation has focused its efforts on supporting families amidst the cost-of-living crisis after participants from its Youth Voice groups expressed concerns over being cold during the winter months.
As a result, the Foundation has now invested more than £100,000 in over 22,000 warm clothing items for every young person across its 77 partner schools in Greater Manchester and beyond, including hats, gloves, scarves, blankets and more.
These items have complemented the winter coats that were distributed earlier this year, following the matchday appeal that was held ahead of the Brentford fixture in October at Old Trafford — a brilliant drive that the club is also hoping to continue.
Donations from fans, club staff and men’s and women’s team players have also led to more than 2,000 coats being received, all of which have since been redistributed to identified families in need, local poverty charities and a charity in Ukraine. Heartwarming stuff.
Similarly, more than 200 shoeboxes – received thanks to Manchester United and Foundation staff – will be handed out to identified children as gifts ahead of the festive season.
Speaking on the return of the scheme, United’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) Collette Roche, said: “We want people who are struggling to know that they are not alone, particularly in our local community…
“Sadly, we also know many of our young people will be facing challenges during the winter period and we hope by providing them with some warm winter clothing or a Christmas gift through the Foundation’s great work we will bring some joy and support to those in need.”
Children under 16 attending this year’s sessions must be accompanied by a parent or guardian over the age of 16. The last warm hub evening of 2023 will be taking place on 18 December and will resume again in the New Year from 8 January until the last Monday of the month (29 January).