After one of the most high-profile financial takeovers in recent memory, seeing a super-wealthy consortium purchase the team back in 2008, City have been one of the toughest teams to stop. The years since the new owners’ arrival have seen colossal investment in the side, leading to six Premier League titles, six League Cups, and two FA Cups, though the club are currently faced with the potential stripping of all of these honours.
The accusations City face are unprecedented, and essentially boil down to a misreporting of financial information, including sponsorship revenue and operating costs, as well as breaches of profit and sustainability rules in three separate seasons, one of which saw them win the Premier League. City face over 100 charges in this case and are preparing themselves for a massive legal battle to prove their innocence.
The club has issued a statement effectively denying the charges, writing that “Manchester City FC is surprised by the issuing of these alleged breaches of the Premier League Rules, particularly given the extensive engagement and vast amount of detailed materials that the EPL has been provided with.” They continue to reaffirm their innocence, stating that they look forward to the legal proceedings as an opportunity to clean their slate.
City face a wide range of potential punishments, the most likely of which being a 15-point deduction. At the time of writing, this would drop the team from second in the league and challenging for the title to ninth place, just behind Chelsea and Brentford. Alternate punishments could include expulsion from the league, which, while very funny in concept, is unlikely, or fines and reprimands.
City’s manager, Pep Guardiola, who is responsible for much of the club’s recent success, has spoken on the charges and football’s legal process. In a press conference on February 10, he told reporters that “We have already been condemned… you have to understand that 19 teams in the Premier League are accusing us without us having the ability to defend. We are lucky we live in a marvellous country where everyone is innocent until proven guilty. [If] we didn’t have this opportunity, we are already sentenced.”
With the season’s end rapidly approaching, the verdict on City’s numerous charges will likely be delivered in the coming weeks. The decision seems set to have major implications for the title race. The 15-point deduction, which many pundits have deemed the most likely punishment, would all but secure Arsenal their first Premier League title since the Invincible season in 2003-04.