History-making City under dark cloud until pending Premier League charges are dealt with 

History-making City under dark cloud until pending Premier League charges are dealt with 
Kyle Walker of Manchester City lifts the Premier League trophy with the squad at Etihad Stadium in Manchester, England. 19 May 2024. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Despite Manchester City painting the Premier League sky blue, a dark cloud threatens to rain on their parade.  

Everyone in the soccer sphere should be celebrating the achievements of Manchester City. People should be in awe of the team’s brilliance, the beautiful football and the consistency they display on a weekly basis.

Focus should be on their perennial dominance of the league over the last few seasons — which resulted in the Manchester club making history by being crowned English champions for the fourth season in a row.

Even the greatest Manchester United sides assembled by the legendary Alex Ferguson did not achieve the feat of a dominant four league titles on the trot. Though they twice completed a hattrick of league wins, first between 1999 and 2001. Then again between 2007 and 2009. However, the quadruple of Premier League titles on the spin remained elusive.

Prior to the Premier League era, which began in 1992, only three other teams had clinched a trio of consecutive leagues. Huddersfield Town, Arsenal and Liverpool all won the old Football League First Division three times on the trot.

By fending off Arsenal by a narrow two points to complete a quadruple of consecutive titles in the league marathon, City ripped apart that existing script. Their Spanish manager Pep Guardiola also added to this historic feat as he became the first head coach working in the English top flight to be victorious four times in a row.

Pep Guardiola, Premier League

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola with the Premier League title trophy. (Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images)

“It’s the mentality. Of course, we have the best players in the world and one of the best generations I’ve seen in English football and in Europe.

But the mentality we’ve built — there’s no other way [to explain it]. Because there are lots of great players in every club,” City’s midfield anchor Rodri said in the aftermath of City’s fourth league crown.

“It’s the most special because nobody ever did this. We came from last season winning everything [after we won the continental treble]. But trying to build again, finding the hunger to win again, is the toughest thing in football,” the Spanish midfielder added.

Hovering dark cloud

Yet, despite constantly pushing the boundaries in English soccer, a dark cloud hovers over all of City’s incredible achievements. A cloud that threatens to revoke their strides over the last decade-and-a-half.

This includes the gains made under the revolutionary and exceptional leadership of Spanish tactician Guardiola, who joined the club in 2016.

The reigning Premier League champions are facing allegations over financial breaches dating back 14 years. City are alleged to have committed multiple financial breaches between 2009 and 2018. Thus, gaining an unfair advantage over their fellow competitors.

The charges emanate from a set of documents which were made public by German publication Der Spiegel, amongst other European publications. In them, the publication alleged countless instances of malfeasance by City’s hierarchy — which is headed by United Arab Emirates (UAE) vice-president Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Premier League

Manchester City owner Abu Dhabi royal Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. (Photo: Tom Jenkins/Getty Images)

The sheer number of charges brought by English soccer’s bosses against City for flouting the league’s Profit and Sustainability Rules (PSR) suggests some form of guilt for the English side.

These charges have to do with City allegedly manipulating their financial records, as well as funnelling money into the club via inflated sponsorship deals with UAE-based companies. The purpose and principles around PSR are simple: don’t spend more than you can make.

European charges 

It’s not the first time City’s financial affairs have been the subject of legal action.

Four years ago, the club successfully appealed a two-year suspension from European club football handed down by Uefa, after the governing body’s financial control wing found them guilty of “serious breaches” of club licensing and Financial Fair Play rules.

City took the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which overturned the ban and reduced the fine they had received from €30-million to €10-million.

The CAS said the alleged breaches had happened too long ago, without Uefa acting. In legal lingo, they were time-barred offences. And that was that.

The Premier League has said it has no such restrictions in its case, which it is confident it can nail City on.

In the recently ended season, Everton were twice punished with a points deduction for breaching PSR regulations. Nottingham Forest were also sanctioned for similar offences. But the duo’s misdemeanours are dwarfed by those facing City.

Premier League

West Ham’s Lucas Paqueta (right) and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne (left) during their English Premier League clash in Manchester, Britain. 19 May 2024. (Photo: EPA-EFE/Ash Allen)

Which has led to speculation of the Manchester club’s punishment should they be found guilty. This includes talk of expulsion from the top flight. Or them being stripped of the titles they won in the period in question.

Everyone following the saga has been curious about when proceedings on the City inquest will begin. Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has confirmed that a date has been set, though he refused to delve into more details.

“All we have said is that a date has been set for the hearing. We haven’t said when that is. Our rulebook requires these commissions to be held in private, and everything to be confidential,” Masters told The Times.

Former Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp, who could have won more league titles than the one he managed, if it was not for the domination of the Citizens, said that despite the alleged financial shenanigans at City — they still had to perform on the field. Which they did.

“No matter what has transpired at Manchester City, Pep Guardiola is the best manager in the world. And that is truly significant. If you put any other manager in that club, they don’t win the league four times in a row. That’s down to him and his team,” Klopp stated.

“Does that mean they can do whatever they want? No. But I don’t know what they did, if they did anything. I’m not here to say they have. We will see. Of course, I would like to know [if they are guilty or not one day]. Everyone wants to know,” the German added.

Though the Premier League is keeping its cards closely guarded, indications are that the independent inquest into City’s dealings will commence sometime next season. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.