Manchester City are still being investigated for violating financial fair play rules more than two years after the Premier League began investigating.
It was legendary striker Sergio Aguero who, not for the first time, inspired a City victory yesterday that edged them within touching distance of the trophy.
Manchester City are still being investigated by the Premier League over financial fair play
Sergio Aguero led City to a victory over Crystal Palace that almost makes them Premier League champions
While not quite as dramatic as the scenes at the Etihad in 2012 when Aguero’s last-gasp goal snatched the title out of United’s hands, the Argentinian put City in front against Crystal Palace with a superb finish. ‘We can start to put the champagne in the fridge — not to open yet, but to think about it,’ said Guardiola after his side’s victory moved them 11 points clear of United with four games left.
‘I will take a look at the (United v Liverpool) game. I’m focused on PSG but I will take a look at the game. What happens, happens but the most important thing is not the fact that you need them to be champions. The Premier League is already there, it is in our hands. We need one more victory, two more points. If we don’t win it tomorrow, we will try to do it next week. We have four games and we need two points. Four games to be champions.’
City have already won 12 major trophies in the past 10 years (four league titles, two FA Cups and six League Cups), following Sheik Mansour’s 2008 takeover, since when he has spent more than £1.5bn on the club.
The journey has not been wholly smooth, with City falling foul of UEFA’s FFP regulations twice. Different governing bodies operate different FFP models but they both limit spending over and above what clubs can prove to be non-benefactor income.
Manchester City have won 12 major trophies since Sheik Mansour’s takeover in 2008
In 2014, City were fined €60m, later reduced to €20m, by UEFA and had some minor squad and transfer restrictions placed on them after being found guilty of FFP breaches. They accepted their guilt without appeal.
In February last year, UEFA imposed a two-year ban on City from the Champions League and fined them €30m for ‘serious breaches’ of FFP; that ban was overturned on appeal last summer at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and the fine was reduced to €10m for failing to cooperate with UEFA’s investigation.
With that matter behind them, City seemed in the clear to build on their position as the dominant force in English football over the past decade but sources confirm the Premier League’s own investigation into City, launched in March 2019, remains ‘unresolved’.
That 2019 probe was launched on the back of ‘Football Leaks’ claims published by the German magazine, Der Spiegel, which alleged a swathe of irregularities by City. A Premier League statement at the time said: ‘The Premier League has previously contacted Manchester City to request information regarding recent allegations and is in ongoing dialogue with the club.’
Last year the Court of Arbitration for Sport quashed City’s Champions League ban by UEFA
The Premier League said it would not comment further until the matter was closed. It isn’t known what specific FFP allegations remain outstanding but the fact that the case is ongoing after more than two years suggests they are complex.
City always insisted that the Der Spiegel materials were taken ‘out of context’ and were ‘purportedly hacked or stolen’, adding that ‘the attempt to damage the club’s reputation is organised and clear’.
Later this year, City could also be mired in a damaging High Court case, scheduled to last for eight weeks from late October, when victims of the convicted paedophile Barry Bennell will allege Bennell was working for City at a time when they sexually abused.
Bennell is serving a 34-year jail term for abusing boys between 1979 and 1991 and could give evidence as a witness in City’s defence, it was revealed in court last month, with the claimants’ barrister, James Counsell QC, saying it was an ‘extraordinary decision’ for City’s lawyers to call him as a witness.