Manchester City almost had two signings tied down as part of a rebuilding job they consider necessary to continue competing at the top level (three or four players needed to come in as regulars), but the Champions League ban from UEFA has slowed things down somewhat. Neither player wants to commit to anything until May, when the club hopes to have a verdict on their appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The club had been warned to expect a considerable punishment, although they were surprised to be banned from the Champions League for the next two seasons. They were also surprised that it was confirmed with their tie against Real Madrid around the corner.
Pep Guardiola has been used in many places as the face of the story, in place of the directors or the owners, when the coach arrived the season after the final investigation. They believe people are trying to make him the face of the ban by association.
City considers themselves completely innocent, but they have a huge mountain to climb to come out of this situation unpunished; their image has been damaged. Their defence is designed on all types of details and depends on them demonstrating that they did not swell the money they received from sponsorship nor did they try to deceive UEFA.
There’s another way to defend yourself, too.
When Barcelona and Juventus exchanged players for inflated values; when Chelsea sell VIP packages to Roman Abramovich’s friends for €10 million; when land is re-qualified in favor of football clubs; when PSG aren’t punished for similar defects and Qatar then buy the rights to the Champions League and PSG’s president joins the board of UEFA’s European Club Association, you could ask: why are only City chased?
Is it not that there’s a culture whereby these things, and a number of other things, have been done free of punishment?
The role of the big clubs
Even Guardiola has suggested that he is without blame should throw the first stone…
With the challenge that City poses to UEFA, Financial Fair Play is being called into question, a way of doing things, but even more: the English club is challenging the authority of the organisation that sets the rules. And what does that mean?
For a long time the most powerful clubs on the planet, a select group, have wanted more power and more money. And less vigilance. Football is inevitably changing and the fan is again a mere spectator.