City of Manchester Stadium
Image: Wikimedia Commons/Gene Hunt

Should Man City lose their Premier League titles?

Am I a Premier League Champion? The two identical tweets from former Liverpool teammates Jose Enrique and Lucas Leiva went viral on social media this week. The pair had worked tirelessly on Merseyside, with Lucas becoming a cult hero for the Reds, but neither man was able to push Liverpool to their first Premier League title.

Now, with Manchester City being charged with over 100 breaches of financial rules, why should former players not question whether, having finished second in the league fairly and through hard work alone, their respective sides should be given the Premier League title they truly deserve?

This is not the first time City have found themselves caught in hot water when it comes to FFP (financial fair play) and the regulations that are intended to assure it. German newspaper Der Spiegel published leaked documents in 2018 which claimed that City had deliberately misled Uefa to suggest they were abiding by FFP rules. They were also accused of inflating the value of sponsorship deals, which comes as a result of supposedly undeclared cash injections from Sheikh Mansour. If City did disguise this money, it would appear as revenue in the club’s accounts, giving them greater financial room in which to operate without the fear of Uefa sanctions. Manchester City strongly denied the accusations and alleged themselves that Der Spiegel took its information through “illegal hacking” and that emails had been taken out of context.

The BBC’s Sport Editor, Dan Roan, highlighted that “this is potentially the biggest financial scandal in the Premier League’s history”. The repercussions for Manchester City could significantly change the club’s make-up. There are rumours that despite City’s employment of a £10k-a-day lawyer, players are already evaluating their options. Four years ago, Pep Guardiola defended the club strongly and vowed to leave if they had misled Uefa. It might, therefore, mean that the Spaniard would leave the City dugout if the charges are proven.

Whatever line the Premier League take, it will have to be extremely harsh in order to ward teams from doing the same thing seemingly without consequence

With Juventus being docked 15 points earlier this season after an investigation into their transfer dealings, the Premier League may indeed follow suit. Yet, a points deduction this season hardly makes up for the pattern of cheating that the investigation alleges. A fine or a slap on the wrist for a footballing financial heavyweight such as Manchester City would not be at all appropriate either. It is also worth noting that, as this is a Premier League investigation, it will not be escalated to Europe, although City did not have any Champions League titles to worry about anyway!

So what should really happen to Manchester City? In the world of athletics, we have seen disgraced athletes who have been found guilty of doping to cheat and win gold in their events stripped of their titles and the second-placed athlete promoted to first. If City are proven to have cheated financially, Liverpool and Manchester United will have lost out on three Premier League titles each. Liverpool particularly had fought relentlessly to miss out on the title last season by just one point just as they had done during the 18/19 season. Steven Gerrard’s infamous slip against Chelsea which could have been seen to have lost Liverpool the title in 2013/14 might now be rendered inconsequential.

To dock Manchester City points this season would not have any bearing on any financial cheating that City have done in the past and will provide no justice to the teams who have missed out as a result. For example, given Liverpool’s current uncharacteristic form, City losing points would hardly come as any solace to them, although it would help United and Arsenal at the top of the table.

Whatever line the Premier League take, it will have to be extremely harsh in order to warn teams against doing the same thing seemingly without consequence. Should the sanctions against Manchester City be weak, what is to stop other teams from cheating, knowing that there are no consequences?


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