The idea that Man City will be punished beyond a meaningless fine is absurd. Pep Guardiola has donned his tinfoil hat but the Premier League always crumbles.
Listening to Pep Guardiola’s press conference last week, you’d have thought that Manchester City had already been found guilty and thrown out of the league. It was a lot of self-pity dressed up as defiance to stir the troops into action. Drumming up ‘us against the world’ is crude psychology, but then crude psychology is often passed off as genius in football. And of course it works because a portion of football’s fanbase sees Pavlov’s dog as a role model and can’t wait to start salivating as soon as the manager tolls the bell. They even bothered to make a banner with their lawyer’s name on it, which was frankly weird.
City fans with a message of support for the lawyer that the club have appointed to represent them in their case v the PL pic.twitter.com/MpFFmbRtZp
— Paul Hirst (@hirstclass) February 12, 2023
But there is no evidence any of the other 19 clubs in the league have conspired against City to invent 101 instances of rule breaking over nine years. Of course there isn’t. Guardiola was making that up. They have also not yet been found guilty of any of the 101 accusations, even if the manager says they have.
Asking for compensation for damaging City’s reputation if they’re found not guilty is a bit rich though. This isn’t some sort of fall from grace in anyone’s eyes. Regardless of the latest accusations, no-one outside of the fanbase thought City were some sort of squeaky clean, holy club any more than they think that about any of the elite teams. One way or another, there is no clean Big Money, it’s just stained to different degrees. You sleep with the devil and the devil will take you away.
The club’s reputation, such as it is, was already fatally wounded in many eyes, given their owners. Some don’t care about that, others are appalled and the appalled are looking forward to seeing them field Paul Dickov and Mike Summerbee in the National League. While you’re at it, get Franny Lee in – he might win you a few penalties. Asa Hartford probably won’t pass the medical though. Jamie Pollock will need a good pre-season.
The reason many want City to be put through the mincer and spat out the other side is because of the financial model it represents. For every fan that loves the big money, the big transfers and the billionaire owners, many others despise how the Premier League football real estate has been bought up by some terrible super rich people and organisations.
There is nothing at all for Guardiola to worry about, of course. It’s all pointless paranoia. The Premier League has facilitated everything City has done. They encouraged it when they gave out a siren call to billionaires regardless of reputation or motive; they flocked in and bought up some of the country’s great old clubs like it was another tasteless gold tower block in the desert. So it’s epic hypocrisy by the Premier League, a league that is just trying to sell itself as independent and definitely doesn’t need an independent regulator to cast judgement over how they conduct themselves, because they know how they conduct themselves would look terrible to an outside organisation.
Even if found guilty of all 101 crimes, City will just be fined, a fine which will be peanuts to the owners, the league will hoover it up and we’ll all move on. There is no chance they will be docked points, or be demoted, because the Premier League has no interest in devaluing their own product by putting the reducer in on one of its own.
Amazing coincidence that the Premier League, which is lobbying against an independent regulator of football, charges Manchester City for breach of financial rules 24 hours before the government releases the white paper on football governance reform. pic.twitter.com/U8tRxKpIS9
— Kieran Maguire (@KieranMaguire) February 6, 2023
The Premier League might want to prove their independence, but the love of Big Money is the league’s DNA. It’s all it knows. It’s their religion. So this is just a spasm. And as much as some want the league to stop nations states, bloody repressive autocracies with awful human rights issues, various chancers, hedge fund groups and asset grifters from owning football clubs, we know it won’t. We know it will get on its knees and fellate Big Money once again and let it do whatever it wants soon enough. How do we know that? Because it always has and it always will, because if it doesn’t, what on earth is it even for? Investigating the finances of clubs is a big dirty sewer into which they do not want to descend.
Despite anything Guardiola says, there is no conspiracy and all of this won’t make anyone think any worse of the club than they already do and they will suffer no meaningful punishment.
Whether City are guilty of these 101 accusations is largely irrelevant in this charade. The whole thing is just a Premier League pose, only given the slightest shred of credibility by Guardiola’s extended protestations of innocence.