As the dust begins to settle on the outcome of the UEFA punishment upon Manchester City, we look at what may happen next.
They always used to say that the only certainties in life were death and taxes, but Manchester City fans can add another – punishment from UEFA.
A 2 year Champions League ban has been imposed by UEFA alongside a €30 million fine by UEFA in respect of Manchester City having been found guilty again of breaching the FFP regulations and subsequently deceiving UEFA.
The fact that this punishment relates back to 2012 and up to 2016 and covers a time where a previous settlement has been agreed, makes the legal landscape all the more murky.
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So, City have pretty much known this was coming since UEFA said so in November 2018 and hopefully since that time will have been getting their story straight and a plan together.
Initially at least City appear bullish in their approach and there is no apparent mood for introspection, reflection or contrition. City maintain they believe they are victims of a concerted attempt to damage the club, but seem reluctant to acknowledge that at the very least they have been complicit in those attempts. Frankly, we would not be in this position at all if things had been done differently, but that ship has well and truly sailed.
Whilst there are some key issues about legal process followed by UEFA and some questionable investigation skills, let alone issues about the accuracy of hacked emails – the point is that any acquittal at CAS will be seen as a legal get out. There will be no clearing of City’s name and reputation, just an acknowledgement that UEFA have messed up their own processes.
Fundamentally much of Citys attitude seems borne out of the same belief that afflicts speeding motorists who are caught. That somehow because everyone else is doing it makes it ok.
So whilst procedurally the next step will be City’s appeal to CAS, the reality is that it is unlikely to deliver the clearing of City which so many fans expect. Instead there will either be an acknowledgement that UEFA messed up their own processes allowing City to escape on a technicality, or a reduction in the severity of the punishment, maybe 1 year instead of 2.
Whatever happens at CAS, it will trigger further investigations to conclude – most notably at the Premier League. Its impossible to predict what sanctions may be considered but expect the PL to issue a statement in the next few days saying investigations are ongoing.
The real problem is that all of this will be conducted 24 hours a day in the court of public opinion, whipped up by the Press. There will be little respite from this and this is what can become most wearing as a City fan.
It has felt for some time as though City are happy to let the fans do the talking and have deliberately taken a laissez faire approach in their handling of the media. Whilst that can work for some large corporations such as Amazon and Google in the face of negative press, it is unlikely to work here. Fundamentally, you can think of fans of customers but we are not. So we need defending too.
Hopefully City will adopt a more aggressive tone in media relations. There is no point attempting to cultivate a good relationship with Sky, talksport, BT etc because they are gleefully punching us when we are down.
On a purely personal note I hope City remove press accreditation from some outlets and instead give it over to us fans!
The media speculation and furore will not be dying down anytime soon. Whilst it impacts mostly on the fans, it will impact players and staff too. How those all feel about their employer now will take some time to entangle.
For elite players with short careers there are other considerations too as to whether the employer can meet their shared expectations. But players come and go, like managers, so I am ultimately less concerned about all of that.
At the end of the day, it is City fans who bear the brunt and have to live through both the impact of decision making at the Club and the emotional toll that brings. Most will carry on supporting but the damage may well be in those new markets City are so keen to try and exploit.
Player recruitment will be restricted to a degree as well and we may all have to get used to being linked to Adebayor again!
So it is the expectations of City fans which may need to be adjusted in the months ahead. Right now we all have to concentrate on the real matters in hand – there are games to play, domestic cups to win and even the Champions League to compete for!