Manchester City punishment: Possible sanctions, points deductions amid Premier League financial allegations

Manchester City v Club Brugge KV: Group A - UEFA Champions League

In early February, Manchester City were charged with more than 100 alleged breaches of the Premier League’s financial regulations, with the alleged offenses allegedly occurring over a number of years.

After a four-year investigation, the Premier League accused them of breaching rules relating to providing “accurate financial information” to the league. The city was also accused of not cooperating with the league’s investigation.

In response, Man City said they were “surprised” by the Premier League’s claims, “particularly given the extensive involvement and vast amount of detailed material that has been provided to the EPL”.

“The club welcomes a review of this matter by an independent commission to impartially consider the comprehensive body of conclusive evidence that exists to support its position,” City added. “As such, we look forward to putting this matter to rest once and for all.”

The timeline for the independent commission’s processes could be extremely lengthy, with many journalists suggesting the saga could play out over months or even years before a resolution is reached.

Should Manchester City be found guilty of some or all of the alleged financial breaches outlined in the Premier League’s investigation, here are the possible penalties the club could face.

Could Man City face a points deduction?

The most commonly discussed potential punishment for Manchester City seems to be a points deduction. This comes according to Martyn Ziegler of The Times. It was also mentioned as a possibility by Mark Ogden of ESPN.

Only one club in Premier League history have ever faced a points deduction: Portsmouth were docked nine points for entering administration in late February 2010. At the time of the punishment, they were already bottom of the league and likely to be relegated.

In Serie A, Italian giants Juventus received a 15-point deduction for financial irregularities just this season, pushing them out of the race for a European place.

Could Man City be fined?

If Man City were to be found guilty of the alleged financial breaches laid out by the Premier League, a fine would most likely be in order as the lowest potential punishment.

There is no outline for the size of the potential fine, as it could reportedly be of an unlimited nature.

Following the 2020 UEFA investigation of Manchester City for alleged financial fair play breaches, the club was initially hit with a €30 million fine. When the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned the decision, the fine was dropped to €10 million for “failure to cooperate” with the investigation, but their two-year ban from European competition was annulled.

Could Man City be given a transfer ban?

Transfer bans have been a popular method of punishment for certain rules breaches across Europe over the past two decades, including for financial irregularities.

A transfer ban, or even the cancellation of current player contracts, is specifically mentioned as a potential punishment in the Premier League handbook under section W51, which states in subsection 6 that the Commission may “cancel or refuse the registration of a Player registered or attempted to be registered in contravention of these Rules”.

In November of 2019, Chelsea were hit with a two-window transfer ban by FIFA after breaching regulations regarding youth transfers, which saw them unable to sign players for the following two transfer windows. That punishment was given after the London club were found to have committed 150 rule breaches relating to the registration of academy players.

Could Man City be relegated?

One nuclear option for a potential guilty finding could be that Manchester City are expelled from the Premier League. This possibility has been confirmed by a host of reports, citing regulation W51 of the Premier League handbook, which states that the Commission is empowered to “recommend that the league expels the Respondent from membership in accordance with the provisions of Rule B.6”.

Rule B.6, referred to in the above paragraph, states that the Premier League could expel a club with a three-fourths vote of the remaining league membership. The Commission would only have the power to recommend expulsion, while the league itself would require a vote to physically take action.

The Premier League handbook does not outline the timeline for a return to membership following expulsion, although it does detail that any club desiring to resign membership from the Premier League requires a three-year waiting period before taking effect.

Could Man City be stripped of titles and trophies?

Should Man City be found guilty of the charges brought, many have speculated on the possibility of the club being stripped of titles or silverware during the alleged period of breaches.

The Premier League handbook does not detail a specific possible punishment for stripping a club of titles, but there is wiggle room in the regulations, which detail that the Commission may “impose upon the Respondent any combination of the foregoing or such other penalty as it shall think fit”.

The alleged breaches cover Premier League titles won during the 2011/12, 2013/14, and 2017/18 seasons, plus numerous other trophies.

At this point, it seems unlikely that this would occur, as leagues across the globe (other than the NCAA in the United States, which seems married to the idea of vacating titles) often go out of their way not to erase moments and memories that occur on the pitch despite potential wrongdoing.

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