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Manchester City Scandal: How Bad Can It Get?

Since the Abu Dhabi Group took over Manchester City in 2008, they’ve made the club one of the richest in the world. With countless Premier League titles, a constant presence in Champions League football, and a seemingly rotating all-star squad, things couldn’t be better for Manchester City fans – right?

Wrong. Manchester City stands accused of violating financial fair play rules. The current charges against them claim that the club broke financial rules over 100 times between 2009 and 2018.

Manchester City has been through scandals like this before. They will go through more. Some nuances make this case more compelling than previous attempts to rein in the club’s bravado.

Will This Be Different than UEFA Challenges?

Manchester City already went through a similar type of scandal like this with UEFA concerning the Champions League. They were preemptively banned from the Champions League for two years in 2020 based on ignoring the financial fair play rules that UEFA had in place.

Financial fair play rules are in place across most forms of football competitions. They are a way to ensure that teams spend the money they earn to help keep a more level playing field between the giant club teams of the world and the lower league sides with limited budgets. These rules are skirted frequently by clubs.

UEFA’s case concluded that the club was suspended from Champions League play for two years. Manchester City appealed UEFA’s outcome and got a better decision. They would continue to play in the Champions League.

In the UEFA ban, City’s legal defense strategy cited that opponents used illegal means and methods to obtain this information and the statute of limitations that these alleged violations had happened so long ago that they were no longer relevant. While this may work with the UEFA courts, the difference with the Premier League is that they do not have a statute of limitations.

Potential Penalties for Manchester City

Rumors about the penalties have ranged from deducting points from the team, deliberately relegating the team down a league or two, or the final straw: voiding the Premier League titles they won during the period in question (2009 to 2018). In that window, Manchester City won the league three times.

Critics have cited deliberate relegation and voiding of Premier League titles as an extreme reaction. It will do little to rectify the past problem. At the least, it is safe to expect that they will have some points deducted from their total this season.

That will make Wednesday’s game with Arsenal even more compelling.

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