Sports Opinion


February 19 - 25 , 2020

Gulf Weekly Fraudiola!

I don’t think it’s particularly uncommon for people to boast about getting a good deal. In fact, most people have a habit of wanting to tell people when it happened or when it was available: “You’ll never guess how much I managed to get this for” or “this was 50 per cent off!” I have nothing against doing it either. I know I am guilty of that myself but perhaps I would be a little more mindful if I had financial restrictions to abide by.

This article could easily divert into talking about Floyd “Money” Mayweather. Just a week after I wrote about his money not affecting him being one of the best boxers of all time, it looks like it may be troubling his personal life. That is if you are to believe 50 Cent, who claims that “Money” is broke. Given the pairs’ chosen names, I do find it ironically funny that they are feuding over currency.

If you’re reading this, not to worry, I will spare you the plethora of terrible money related puns. And honestly, going off the reaction of friends I have spoken to, the news that Manchester City will be banned from European Competition for two years is far more hilarious.

The ban actually relates to breaches of financial fair play rules between 2012 and 2016 thus ruling out any real impact on what Guardiola has done with City before the “Fraudiola” boys are back with their pickets and nonsense.

Just a reminder to those guys, Sir Alex Ferguson won two Champions Leagues in 26 years with Manchester United, a club whose spending power was only regularly matched by Real Madrid.

Essentially the core issue with Manchester City’s finances was that they overstated how great their deals were.

The financial fair play rules at the time stated that the maximum permitted loss for a financial year was €45m and that this could not simply be bankrolled by a club’s owner but must work on the club’s balance sheet. When you’re recruiting world class talent like Eliaquim Mangala for £31m and Wilfried Bony for £25m among a host of other transfers, it can be difficult to keep within the loss threshold without some serious sponsorship deals.

In stepped the generous people of Etihad Airways to provide £67.5m worth of shirt sponsorship to balance the books, a lucky reprieve for the City boys. That was until Rui Pinto, currently in jail for hacking offenses including hacking a number of Portuguese football clubs, definitely did not hack City’s emails and stumbled across information which suggested that Etihad’s actual contribution was around £8m and the other 60-odd in fact came from the City owner himself. Naughty. This was then leaked to German newspaper Der Spiel and so the investigation began.

There are a number of saving graces, however, for Manchester City. Firstly, they have been very open with their stance from the very beginning. As soon as the investigation started, they provided everything that was needed and always refuted the accusations. This, of course, doesn’t mean that they have done nothing wrong but psychologically it’s not what you’d expect from a guilty party.

Secondly they have had ample time to prepare for this moment. Whilst the football world is talking about this news as if it were breaking, the truth is, this ruling was always coming and City said as much: “Ultimately we were prepared for this to have to go to an independent body.” The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League gathered the evidence and then handed it to UEFA, who then passed it down to UEFA to decide a verdict before passing it back to UEFA for sentencing. The air of inevitability would not have been lost on those high up in Manchester.

City have already said they will be appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) at the earliest possible point and from what I have seen and read so far, they seem fairly confident this will be overturned. They have been given 10 days to submit their appeal but the truth is they have the best part of two years to prepare it.

There have also been rumours that the Premier League will also sanction City, but if I were them, I would wait for the appeal before taking any action.

Whilst I thoroughly believe that cheaters should get punished, it does seem as though UEFA are desperate to clamp a team on financial fair play to show that they are trying to even the playing field.

You only have to look around to see loopholes being exploited. Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) having spent £195m on Neymar somehow also managed to scoop a loan deal for the world’s most exciting young talent, Kylian Mbappe, in the same window at a time when teams were offering Monaco tens of millions to take him there and then. Are you going to convince us that that was a reasonable deal to have made? If City is guilty, they deserve the punishment but I just don’t see it happening. Still it will be fun to keep track of.

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