Man City must have three Premier League titles stripped if guilty

Man City charged by Premier League after more than 100 alleged rule breaches

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It has been a long time in coming but when it finally dropped Manchester City’s charge sheet was longer than Pep Guardiola’s face after a trip to Tottenham. One hundred and thirteen alleged breaches of Premier League rules – it was the kitchen sink being thrown at the English champions.

If City are guilty of financial doping on the scale of which they are accused – and an independent commission will decide on that in due course – then there has to be a corresponding price paid for their mendacity. It would have to be a sporting punishment. 

Fines would be an irrelevance for a club backed by gulf billions. Points deductions would have some validity, as would an expulsion from the Premier League, but the most appropriate sanction would be for the club to be stripped of the three titles it won over the nine-year period in question.

Taking away all the titles won by illicit means would strike at the heart of the state vanity project at the Etihad. For City to join the rogue’s gallery populated by Marseille in the 90s and Juventus the following decade following their corruption scandals would be a huge loss of face for Abu Dhabi.

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While the white-collar accounting irregularities City are accused of being less wounding to football’s soul than the match-fixing cases in France and Italy, wantonly evading a league’s financial rules artificially skews outcomes too. Money buys players and players – particularly lots of very good ones – win matches.

Are the existing profitability and sustainability regulations unfair and in place specifically to keep down new money like City’s? It is a question worth asking. But the rules are there nonetheless and if City drove a cart and horses through them then they should face the music.

City came out fighting with their statement on Monday hinting at Premier League bias against them. “We look forward to this matter being put to rest once and for all,” it ended.

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Maybe this protracted business will all be cleared up once and for all in City’s favour by the hearing. The club have some hot lawyers who helped to get the club’s two-year European ban and £26.8million fine from UEFA for financial fair play breaches watered down to an £8.9m penalty at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

But after four years of work on this the Premier League can only believe the champions have a case to answer.

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