Europe 1 with AFP 8:36 p.m., February 07, 2023

Having become in a few years the showcase of English football, Manchester City is shaken by suspicions of financial embezzlement, which also shake the powerful Premier League, at the origin of the investigations but which must now act with tact.

The Citizens, owned since 2008 by the wealthy Abu Dhabi United Group consortium, have they fallen into the offside trap?

In any case, the Premier League struck hard on Monday by announcing that the actions of the reigning English champion, suspected of more than a hundred breaches of financial rules between 2009 and 2018, deserved to be examined closely.

The northern English club is also accused of failing to cooperate fully with the Premier League during its preliminary investigations and faces sanctions from the independent commission which will rule on them, ranging from a simple reprimand to exclusion. of the championship through the withdrawal of points.

Recognized as the richest club a month ago by Deloitte, City showed some confidence on Monday, assuring that it had "irrefutable evidence supporting its position".


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City as an example?

However, this is not the first time that he has found himself in these same quicksands.

But after having always managed so far to extricate themselves from it, the Mancunians could well serve as an example.

Already in 2014, the club was fined 60 million euros for failing to comply with UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules.

In 2020, the blow also passed, the Court of Arbitration for Sport invalidating a two-year suspension from European competitions imposed in February by UEFA, always for the same reasons.

Last year, coach Pep Guardiola had also made it quite clear that he would retire if it was finally proven that the club's leaders had lied to him.

So many reasons why The Times wrote on Tuesday that City acted "on an industrial scale".

"If all this is proven, the ensuing sanction should deter all those who strive to follow the model developed by City", continues Henry Winter, the newspaper's sports pen.


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The Premier League in an uncomfortable position

This investigation must however be placed in a more global context which protects City and puts the Premier League in an uncomfortable position, explains Simon Chadwick, professor of sports economics and geopolitics at SKEMA Business School in Paris.

According to him, the British government is preparing to publish a white paper supposed to support the creation of an independent regulator in football.

"The Premier League is opposed to it," assured the BBC the expert Kieran Maguire, according to whom the organizer of the championship "intends to prove to everyone that he is able to maintain order in his house".

"The Premier League is between a rock and a hard place," summarizes Mr. Chadwick.

"She's being pressured by the government to take a more robust approach to funding and governance, but she's also acutely aware that the government is making her do her dirty work."

If the threat of administrative relegation or exclusion from the championship seems unthinkable, the economist nevertheless thinks that the probable outcome of this thorny problem could take the form of a compromise that will take a long time to see the light of day.

Because the Premier League has no interest in shooting itself in the foot by punishing one of its most loyal ambassadors around the world too harshly.


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"Protect their assets"

"During this very delicate economic period, especially after Brexit, the British government and the Premier League cannot afford to shun potential foreign investment" and "apply draconian rules to foreign investors", he continues.

"That a national authority strives to enforce its rules to multinational organizations, often supported or aided by States, it's a bit like the war of our time", develops the economist, aware that the Paris Saint- Germain, Manchester City's rival, is held by Qatar.

“At the end of the story, I think the government and the Premier League will have found a way to protect their assets while upholding certain principles of good governance,” concludes Mr Chadwick.