Man City and FFP: Rules are rules even if those rules are nonsense

Editor F365
Manchester City celebrate with their fans
Manchester City celebrate with their fans

Man City fans surely know that their club is breaking rules even if they don’t approve of the rules themselves?

FFP continues to dominate the Mailbox but there are thoughts on Trent, managers, VAR and more.

Send your own thoughts to


Do Man City fans know their club breaks rules?
For my own sanity I need to ask Man City fans a question.

You do know your team is breaking the rules right? Or at the very least has? You do know your club is owned by bad guys who don’t actually care about you club right?

You know that whatever pieces of paper the club have to shuffle around to pretend that it’s owned by x and not y are technicalities. You know that these commercial deals don’t make a lick of sense.

You know your club behaves like a mob boss in the face of investigations. You know something isn’t right about all this yeah?

Like, you can not care. You can get your banter away and defend your club however you like. You can think it’s fine. Or, at the very least, worth it.

You can think that FFP is nonsense, that keeps down everyone but the traditional elite. You might even have a point. You can think these rules shouldn’t exist. But – please – tell me you know that they do and that you know that you’re breaking them. Even if you’d be delighted to get away with it, and are delighted to have done so, so far, already.

All of that, I can accept. If this is just you guys saying whatever you need to defend your club. Fine, sure. There are fans of every team would do the same.

But I really need to know, for my faith in the collective intelligence of the human race, that you haven’t just bought your owners lies hook, line and sinker?
G, Swansea


…When I read through the mailbox and see people arguing details of why City and Chelsea have or haven’t cheated I feel like there is a huge dose of not being able to see the woods for the trees.

Why were FFP rules introduced? Cynics may say to protect the established elite, fine but the basics of the rules, the fundamental principle is to restrict the amount you spend based on the amount you earn. You can go in to detail about £105m losses in 3 years and improving facilities being exempt but the basics remain the same. Does anyone out there truly believe that early days Chelsea and latterly Man City operated within that guidance without cheating it? These two clubs barely had a pot to pi$$ in and suddenly their annual turnover is better than Real Madrid and Man Utd with their ridiculously large global fan base and marketing operations?

If Chelsea and City haven’t cheated the system then are we to believe that they suddenly became marketing and scouting geniuses to enable them to stretch their meagre budgets and punch hugely above their weight at the exact same time they were taken over my a billionaire or Arab state?

When Chelsea were broadly trying to operate within their means they were about to be put in administration such was the lack of money they had. When City were broadly trying to operate within their means they were barely a midtable premier league club. Arguing anything but a huge cash injection from wealthy owners is the sole reason either club has won anything in the last 20 years is crazy and missing the point.

Have all the arguments you want about whether the rules themselves are fair or create a closed shop, or even argue some about how Man U, Liverpool and Arsenal created their own wealth back in history but to argue that Chelsea and City haven’t done anything but buy their success flying in the face of the principle of the rules which have been established is naive and overly partisan beyond belief.
Rich, AFC


…Absolutely top-notch mailboxing from Paul. Defending his club as well as any proper fan could be expected too. He’s quite right that many fans have already judged City, and we’ve done so on the flimsiest of evidence. We couldn’t possibly understand any of the evidence – we’re football fans not accountants goddamit! “There’s no smoke without fire” is also definitely something you don’t want to hear from your jury.

Except… there is no jury. And there is no “beyond a reasonable doubt” here. No “comfortable satisfaction” needs to be reached as was the case with CAS. City will be found guilty (or not) on the “balance of probabilities”. Yehhhhh, there’s still going to be a lot of evidence to go through and yeeehhhh, City will drag this out for as long as possible by contesting every single thing, splashing loads of cash on lawyers (good tactic when you’re guilty). You can see why it’s taking so long and I would expect City to have notched a couple of extra trophies by the time it’s sorted.

But at the end of the day it’s going to come down to “well they probably did it”. Which seems like a massive waste of time and effort when – as Paul says through salty tears – every single non-City fan has already reached that conclusion.

Apparently, we all want to believe City are guilty because we’re jealous of their success (probably true). I believe that Paul wants to believe City are innocent, not because he thinks they are, nor because he loves his club. Paul wants to believe in City because the owners have delivered him (and literally hundreds just like him) unparalleled success (almost). He wants it to continue regardless of all the asterisks that get added to each trophy they win.

Paul would like us to believe that City have been cooperative with the Premier League. But a report from 2021 details how City “spent months refusing to release documents to the league”, objecting to the arbitration panel and losing numerous appeals against it. And with UEFA they began by cooperating and then threw their toys out the pram when the details were leaked. Here’s a good summary from CAS as to City’s general approach:

“However, considering i) the financial resources of MCFC; ii) the importance of the cooperation of clubs in investigations conducted by the CFCB, because of its limited investigative means; and iii) MCFCs blatant disregard of such principle and its obstruction of the investigations, the majority of the panel finds that a significant fine is to be imposed on MCFC”

Now, I don’t know about you, but to me they don’t seem like the type of organisation to cooperate. Any good suspect cooperates until the point at which they do. And this is usually when the net is closing.

But Paul, you’re quite right, we really don’t know what’s going on, and it could all be a complete farce. I have an inkling though that when it’s all over and details become public (they always do) we’re going to discover a lot about City that is nefarious in ways you wouldn’t imagine a football club could be (and this from the country that brought you Millwall). Actually I’ll rephrase that. It’s not the club it’s the owners that will (maybe) be bringing the game into disrepute. But by association and continued defence Paul and other City fans who revel in the glory that’s been bought, are aiding and abetting them.

Or maybe they’re innocent and it’s just a big misunderstanding.

But that won’t matter because we don’t care about morals, we’re just upset because our clubs are run by greedy morons and not aggressive, human rights violating countries. We’re more interested in asterisks.

Whether that last bit is true or not is entirely irrelevant to me. I quite like seeing rules followed and I’m a fan of fair play. But come on – it’s dead funny to wind you lot up by constantly repeating one one five, one one five, one one five.

Ash (you wouldn’t think they’d won a treble* would you?) M


Re: the Everton letters
– Ian UTFT, with respect, I don’t think you are properly acknowledging the unsustainable Everton spending over the past 6-7 years.

Second, “some irony a West Ham piping up when they’ve been gifted a free stadium”. What does the WH lease of London Stadium have to do with Everton’s plight? There was no impropriety in that deal and so is irrelevant. Many WH fans (inlcuding me) would rather not have moved from UP. However that’s because I grew up there, but I reluctantly appreciate that a 60,000+ stadium was the only way we could compete long term (Everton are an example of why that is not possible in a small aged stadium, unfortunately).

I grew up with Everton being one of the “Big 4”. You’re in the same position as we were in at UP 7 years ago, but Everton went wild with spending regardless. As for whether we would have been relegated if we hadn’t moved, have you been to UP or the London Stadium? Moving from UP set us back hugely in terms of results. Hence our flirt with relegation last year. I think there are plenty of similarities between the Toffees and Irons actually (apart you won tonnes of titles!), which is why our fans have historically got on with each other at games, home and away, extremely well.

– TX Bill: I appreciate the considered response, I am genuinely pleased to be educated on things which I don’t know. But how did COVID affect Everton more than any other club? Re accounting in terms of the stadium, yes I agree and sympathize, hence my comments above, but that was/is the reality when these board level decisions were made. If the point is that accounting d!cks/ownership at your club have screwed you, of course I sympathize. My club was taken over by Icelandic bankers a few months before the world financial system collapsed in part due to said Icelandic bankers. Fans are always the innocent victims of all this balls.

One other point on your email, Sir, you mention being “jobbed over by VAR”. I recall a season not that long ago (I’m old…) where you stayed up literally only the basis of a disallowed Bolton goal which was laughably well over the line but not given, because there was no VAR. So yeah. Hey…. at least you are not like your conspiracy theory obsessed neighbours.

– I take no joy in Everton being punished. I really respect their fans as being a generally loyal, die hard, but fair, bunch. I’m glad that recent results suggest that you should be fine for now in terms of staying up. But the punishment is deserved. And the fact that City have yet been punished is ridiculous. Hopefully it’s just a case of justice taking longer to materialize because of their unlimited legal funds. Good luck Toffees.
Mike, WHU


FFP is a nonsense
I don’t want Manchester City or Chelsea to fail.

What you should be looking at is why the richest clubs in England went to Platini and asked for UEFA to set rules as they couldn’t protect their status because of new money like City and now Newcastle and Everton.

As Gary Neville said they pulled up the ladder. It’s that corruption that’s the problem. Not the 10 pts. I don’t care about that. How does that hurt us. Everton are guilty of gross mismanagement too. I’m a huge Evertonian but this serves them right!

It was a show trial by a kangaroo court because the premier league don’t want government arbitrators poking into their corrupt business.

Ask Platini.
Stephen Percival


Combating fixture congestion
The other day, I was listening to Talksport and they talked about VAR being partly responsible for all the injuries, as well as the huge amount of added time at the end of both halves. Whilst I fully agree that VAR is a major problem and should be abolished as soon as possible, they should not be held responsible for the incompetence that is fixture congestion. It is that which is killing the game.

We don’t know if the FIFA International match calendar from 2024-25 to 2027-28 is official, but with more European games, as well as the expansion of the Club World Cup (another stupid innovation!), it’s a triple certainty that there is going to be more matches than ever.

In my view, there are 3 ways which can kill fixture congestion.

1. Premier League teams competing in Europe be exempt from the League Cup.

2. Moving the Europa League and Conference League to Tuesdays-Wednesdays. Kick-off for those games can be at 17h45 UK time, so as to not clash with the Champions League. That way, you won’t have the dreaded Thursday-to-Sunday logistical issue.

3. Get rid of the traditional qualifying process for the World Cup and Euros. By doing so, there is more logistical leeway in between Premier League games. The Nations League can be used as basis for qualifying for the major tournaments. For example, teams that win their groups automatically qualify, whilst the runner-ups go into the Play-offs in order to determine the remaining slots. You could even do that for the likes of the Copa America, Gold Cup and African Cup Of Nations!

I am sure those ideas mentioned above will be mocked at, but are there any other sensible solutions that can eradicate fixture congestion? I don’t think so.


VAR from the worst solution
Referees are not biased or prejudiced in any way. Not against you, your team or anyone else.

I think an extra linesman (antiquated I know) on either side would provide the ref with a much better view of what’s happening.

So for example the assistant on the left flags for offside, the one on the right doesn’t and the ref isn’t sure, they all play on then quickly go to the monitor and majority wins.

They have three views of every incident from their respective points of view which they decide between themselves. Authority remains on the pitch. If two agree in real time, decision stands. Only if the three officials in that particular half of the pitch can’t reach a majority decision in 3 seconds does it go to VAR. I can’t think of any flaws, but you guys will xx
Damien Wilkinson


It might be quicker anyway
Whilst trying my best to stay awake during the England Vs Macedonia match I spotted the offside call against Grealish, which was correct.

However, I also noticed it took an age for VAR to come to this conclusion, which made me wonder… why does VAR take so long over simple calls?

3 minutes is more than adequate time to text one’s friends, loved ones or bookies to advise them of the outcome you came to 2mins 45secs ago…



Hoping racist England don’t pick Trent
So he has a bad game in a position he doesn’t actually play and thus has no experience (though I believe he can play it) and England fans rush to criticise.

Honestly, good. Hopefully it will make Trent reconsider whether he wants to play for England or not. I’d rather none of our players do.

Toxic fanbase of racists who can’t wait to racially abuse their own players if they happen to have too much melanin and miss a penalty. And it’s a waste of time anyway England are never winning a trophy. Ever. Even when they get given easy routes and non stop penalties they still don’t win.

International football in general is very slow and boring. I was looking forward to seeing what diniz did with Brasil but all the European based players turn Brasil into a slow cumbersome team of losers as well.

So keep criticising, I hope Trent reads it and I hope he realises there’s no point going where you’re not appreciated. Same goes for rashford and saka. When you make a mistake, suddenly your skin colour will be used against you.

To be clear – I’m not saying Trent was racially abused, far as I can see he wasn’t. But there’s no denying if you’re black and make a mistake on England duty there’s a good chance you’ll get racially abused.


Managers: Boro style
Great question from Jeremy Aves and something I’ve thought about for a while as a Middlesbrough fan when I think about our history of managers since I’ve supported the club:

Bryan Robson (Rookie) – Relegated and got stagnant towards the end but 3 cup finals and some mega signings was all very exciting.

Steve McClaren (Rookie) – More great signings, our first major trophy and that UEFA cup run. Went on to the England job. Steve, Casper and his hair island are assisting ETH at Man United.

Gareth Southgate (Rookie) – Likeable chap, had a good attitude as the Boro boss but ultimately led to relegation. Some great games though and he hasnt done too badly since leaving.

Gordon Strachan (Veteran) – Tried to bring the SPL to the Championship and got thoroughly embarrassed. Torn up his own contract when he realised quite how badly he messed up. Disaster.

Tony Mowbray (Veteran) – Only a matter of time till he managed his hometown club and while it wasn’t dogdirt there was always a sense of the nearly men with Mogga.

Aitor Karanka (Rookie) – Apparent nasty piece of work that gave the players the boot up the bum they needed. So big was the boot they actually got promoted even after a mid season sulk. Got fired when it turned out Patrick Bamford wasn’t the answer.

Garry Monk (Veteran-ish) – Short appointment as nobody really knew how he wanted to play featuring different line-ups and formations each week. Left after 5 months only to be replaced by…

Tony Pulis (The most Veteran of Veterans) – Got into the playoffs before losing to Villa then in his first and only full season lost six games on the bounce to cement Championship status for another year. Tepid.

Jonathan Woodgate (Rookie) – Now I don’t want to be cynical here but I think Gibbo hired him to save some money. Allegedly struggled through his coaching badges and was fired with Boro in a relegation battle.

Neil Warnock (Veteran) – Gibbo wanted it, Neil wanted it, finally everyone’s dreams were fulfilled. Saved Boro from relegation. Lost to Birmingham and Luton as he broke the record for most managerial games. Did he just take the Boro job to do that? Now I don’t want to be cynical…

Chris Wilder (Veteran) – Seemed like a great appointment and started off pretty well. Then Sean Dyche was sacked by Burnley and it was all Chris thought about. Sacked with Boro in the relegation zone.

Michael Carrick (Rookie) – Pulled Boro to safety and even led a charge to the playoffs. Had a ropey start to this season but climbing the table and have a league cup quarter final to look forward to.

My point is – Gibbo appears to have better luck appointing rookies than he does veterans. Maybe this is a Middlesbrough specific thing and the tried and tested methods don’t work or maybe the rich Middlesbrough air is a bit too much for the old heads? Long email this, like.
Mannix (Boro fan)