Manchester City have become used to the eyes of the football world being upon them for their achievements on the pitch, but it is their alleged mishandling of finances that has garnered significant attention in the last week.
In the aftermath of Everton being docked 10 points by the Premier League for alleged financial breaches, focus has turned toward a potential verdict for Manchester City.
Earlier this year, the club was charged with over 100 financial rule breaches by the Premier League over the course of a decade. City will have the opportunity to defend themselves against the charges at an independent tribunal in the future.
Last week, The Times reported that Manchester City and Chelsea are among the clubs that could be threatened a 30-point deduction or automatic relegation should charges be proved in an independent regulatory commision.
City categorically deny all charges and maintain they have acted within the rules of the game.
Dr Gregory Ioannidis and Dr Dan Plumley, writing in the International Sports Law Review via The Manchester Evening News, warn that if Manchester City do not face significant punishment for their alleged offences, it could cause huge unrest among Europe’s top clubs “to the point of mutiny“.
“There are different dynamics present that control the decision-making of all stakeholders. Whatever the result of the present dispute, it is almost certain that UEFA will face serious unrest from its member clubs to a point of mutiny.
“The financial prowess of football clubs such as Manchester City, with the expert lawyers taking apart the inefficiency and complexity of the regulations (contra preferentem comes to mind), can only demonstrate how weak such regulations are in their application.
“It would not be good enough for the Premier League to argue that Manchester City failed to co-operate with the Premier League’s investigation,” they write. “The Premier League would have to go beyond this, by proving that Manchester City, as a matter of fact and evidence, failed to produce accurate financial information (and/or lied about it) in relation to their revenue, within the meaning of the current regulations.
“This is not an easy burden for the Premier League. But it should not be easy, because the allegations produced are of a very serious nature.
“Should the Premier League be able to discharge such a burden, the burden will then shift to Manchester City, who would, in turn, have to respond, and attempt to discharge it. The sliding scale, therefore, of the standard of proof, will be in full force and action here.
“Advisors must, therefore, make a note that the weight of the evidence and the manner in which it is presented, may be the deciding factors in the final decision making of the Panel.”