Search icon


20th May 2024

Opinion: Cloud hangs over Man City and the Premier League until 115 charges are addressed

Peter Fitzpatrick

Man City

History has been made, but a cloud hangs over the team and the league.

Manchester City became the first English club to win four league titles in a row after a 3-1 win over West Ham at the Etihad Stadium on the final day of the Premier League season.

In pipping Arsenal to the title by a mere two points, City have outdone the greatest teams in English football history.

The Gunners side of the 1930s, Huddersfield Town the decade before (yes, really), Liverpool in the ‘80s and Manchester United twice under Alex Ferguson, all could only win it on three consecutive occasions.

Man City’s latest title success comes just 25 years after the club needed two late goals and a penalty shootout to defeat Gillingham in the old Division Two (now League One) play-off final.

It completes one of the most remarkable rags to riches in the near-136 years of professional football. At least, that’s what some, including Man City ambassador Micah Richards, are saying.

Some broadcasters tell you (or shout at you in the former defender’s case) that this is something incredible we are witnessing and further proof of the Premier League being the “Best League in the World ™.”

Even when the subject of the Premier League charges were brought against Man City was briefly broached on Sunday, Richards spoke as though the club was being unfairly targeted.

In reality, what is regularly said isn’t true with two important details being largely overlooked on this journey. These details lead us to question the claim that the Premier League is the world’s best division.

Man City’s rise.

City’s rise to the top of the sport can be directly linked to the 2008 takeover that saw Sheik Mansour of the United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi) obtain the club.

The takeover appeared to be part of wider plans as they stepped up their foreign policy in a quest for soft power and to diversify revenue streams ahead of a potential oil-free future.

This isn’t intended as a full-blown assault on these fanbases before the pitchforks come out. Football is inherently tribal and full of vested interests, and we often will defend our own to the death in spite of mounting evidence.

This is why state ownership is such powerful propaganda. Fans can be subconsciously mobilised to defend those countries as a result of their love for the club. It is difficult, if not impossible, to turn that off.

One must also appreciate that it is different for clubs starved of success (like City were until 2011 and Newcastle have been for most of their history) when compared to United and Liverpool, whose fans have seen their clubs win it all.

Ultimately, Man City fans can’t choose who owns the club. You can, however, support your team and dislike your owners even when you’re winning, as Man United fans have shown.

Man City’s 115 charges have yet to be addressed for allegedly breaking Premier League Profit and Sustainability rules over a nine-year period from 2009-2018. Man City deny any wrongdoing.

The potential outcome and consequences of going against the champions have already been discussed at government level between the two countries – yes, we are still talking about football here.  

Meanwhile, the club now brings in more commercial revenue than Man United, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool and Bayern Munich, five of the world’s most popular football clubs.

A cloud hangs over City and the Premier League.

City are well within their rights to defend themselves.

They were cleared by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2020 on appeal after UEFA charged them for allegedly breaching Financial Fair Play rules. Unlike that case though, the Premier League investigation is not time-barred/

City have said that they have “irrefutable evidence” that will clear them of all charges.

Of 115 charges against the club, 35 relate to allegedly failing to cooperate with the Premier League investigation between 2018 and 2023. In that period, the club have won five six Premier League titles and a treble.

The counterclaim from many fans is that there is a “Big Six Cartel” which wants to prevent the growth of anyone else in the league and the so-called haters of City’s success should “cry more.”

Yet, until Man City are cleared of these charges, there will be an asterisk beside their success – not officially, but in the minds of many football fans.

Man City have brilliant elite players such as Kevin De Bruyne, Erling Haaland, and Rodri. Yet, they are the champions of a league that has accused them of 115 counts of wrongdoing.

Until the Premier League case against Manchester City is resolved, a cloud hangs over the team, the club, the league and claims of it being the best league in the world.

WATCH: Liverpool BOTTLED the title race 🤬 | Who will win the Premier League?