The Premier League has charged Manchester City with more than 100 breaches of its financial rules following a four-year investigation. It has referred the club to an independent commission over alleged rule breaches between 2009 and 2018. It also accused City of not co-operating since the investigation started in December 2018. City said they were “surprised” by the charges and are supported by a “body of irrefutable evidence”. The commission can impose punishments ranging from a fine and points deduction to expulsion from the Premier League. Last season City won their sixth Premier League title since the 2008 takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group.
In a statement the Premier League said City breached rules requiring them to provide “accurate financial information that gives a true and fair view of the club’s financial position”. This information covered club revenue, which includes sponsorship income and operating costs. Further alleged breaches relate to rules requiring full details of manager remuneration – from the 2009-10 to 2012-13 seasons, when Roberto Mancini was in charge – and player remuneration between 2010-11 and 2015-16. The Premier League said City breached rules related to Uefa regulations, including Financial Fair Play (FFP), from 2013-14 to 2017-18, as well as Premier League rules on profitability and sustainability from 2015-16 to 2017-18.
In 2020 European football governing body Uefa ruled that City committed “serious breaches” of FFP regulations between 2012 and 2016. However, a two-year ban from European competitions was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) later that year. Uefa began its investigation into City after German newspaper Der Spiegel published leaked documents in November 2018 alleging the club had inflated the value of a sponsorship deal. The proceedings of the commission – chaired by Murray Rosen KC – will be confidential and heard in private.
After publishing their findings, the Premier League has referred Manchester City to an independent commission that will determine any punishments. Crucially, the club will not be able to appeal the decision of that commission to the Court of Arbitration for Sport like it did with UEFA’s findings. The judicial panel consists of sitting or retired judges, attorneys and football administrators. The Premier League report did not identify the punishments Manchester City could receive if the independent panel takes action against the club.
However, there are already a list of permissible punishments that independent commissions can levy for rule violations listed in the Premier League bylaws. Based on the handbook, pretty much everything is on the table if the Premier League’s findings are backed up by the commission. According to section W.51.4 of the Premier League’s official rules and regulations, the following sanctions are possible:
- A fine of unlimited quantity
- Suspension of a club from playing in league matches, with an unlimited timeframe
- Point deductions
- Replays of past matches
- Permanent expulsion
The kicker, though, underlines the power of the commission:
- Make any such other order as the commission sees fit