Following a four-year investigation, the Premier League announced on Monday that they were formally charging Manchester City with 113 individual breaches of their regulations, across the period 2009-2023.
During this period, the club won three Premier League titles, an FA Cup and three EFL Cups, and slowly progressed towards becoming the dominant force in English football.
But what do the charges mean for the club and how will the process unfold? And exactly what are the charges are that have been levelled by the Premier League? Quays News brings you the lowdown….
What are the charges?
The charges are extensive, relating to a variety of alleged breaches of financial regulations across nine Premier League seasons, from 2009-10 to 2017-18, alongside more minor charges in recent years relating to failing to co-operate with the Premier League investigation.
The filing of these charges is extraordinary and is without precedent in the Premier League era. It is difficult to overstate the significance of what is being alleged, with the charges suggesting that the Premier League has reason to believe there are issues regarding the filing of City’s financial accounts.
These claims, which could well result in not just sporting punishments, but also a variety of legal ramifications if they can be proven by the Premier League.
What have the club said?
City released a statement within an hour of the charges being made public, noting that they were “surprised”. Outwardly the club ‘welcomed’ the review of the matter, and alluded to their belief in the “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”.
However, media reporting suggested that the club are questioning the timing of the announcement, with several outlets expressing a belief from those at City that the Premier League’s decision was ‘tactical’, in relation to the upcoming government white paper on the introduction of an independent football regulator.
They have also suggested that media outlets were briefed ahead of time, whilst the Premier League did not notify City that the charges were being levelled against them before going public.
What happens next?
City have until February 23 to respond to the allegations, by which time there will have been an independent panel established.
This panel will be selected by the chair of the Premier League judicial panel, Murray Rosen KC, a barrister who was appointed in 2020. Rosen is likely to appoint a three-person panel, including at least one financial expert.
The exact process remains unclear, but the length of investigation up to this point suggests that the path to a final verdict could take months, perhaps even years.
The UEFA investigation into City’s finances investigated only a five-year period, between 2012 and 2016 and it still took eleven months from the start of the investigation until the final ruling. It then took a further five months for the appeal to be heard and the verdict delivered at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), where the ban from European competition was overturned.
The Premier League investigation took four times as long as the UEFA equivalent, whilst looking at a much longer timeframe. Though other Premier League clubs have been calling for a result by the end of this season, it seems extremely unlikely that this will be possible due to the extensive nature of the charges.
There is no obligation to make the process by which the panel reaches its conclusion public. The panel will meet and operate confidentially and there will be no public updates. The next time either party comments publicly on this situation is likely to be when the Premier League publishes the final verdict.
What punishments might the club face?
The Premier League rules state that the independent panel have the right to decide on a variety of punishments if City are found to have broken any of the Premier League’s rules. These potential punishments include:
- Points deductions
- Suspension from playing league games
- Making a recommendation that the Premier League expels the respondent club
- Ordering the club to pay compensation
- Cancelling or refusing the registration of players
- Ordering the club to pay costs
The panel also has the right to make any other such order as they see fit. Whilst possible, expulsion from the league seems to be unlikely, but the serious nature of the allegations means that nothing should be considered off the table.
Why have the charges come now?
There is no definitive answer to this, and it is unlikely that one is forthcoming, but senior figures at City appear to have briefed that they believe the charges have been rushed out to ensure they come before the government’s white paper on football regulation.
They believe that it was an attempt by the league to demonstrate that they can get their own house in order and do not require the assistance of an independent body. The Premier League oppose an independent regulator, whilst City have gone on record as being supportive of the move.
The Premier League have been investigating the club for over four years, since Der Spiegel’s publication of emails.