Manchester City 115 charges explained: What is latest on PSR & FFP charges?

Video caption, Pep Guardiola: Manchester City manager answers a question about his future in relation to any potential punishment for the club

Nottingham Forest’s points deduction appeal has been dismissed and by this time next week the verdict on Everton’s appeal against their second punishment should be known, just in time for the end of the Premier League season.

Whenever Everton and Nottingham Forest’s breaches of Profit and Sustainability Rules (PSR) hit the headlines, many football fans ask, ‘What about Manchester City’s case’?

It has now been 15 months since City were hit with 115 Premier League charges for alleged financial irregularity – charges they strongly deny.

And some reports suggest it could be at least another year before any verdict.

BBC Sport assesses the latest information.

What are the 115 charges against Man City?

54x Failure to provide accurate financial information 2009-10 to 2017-18.

14x Failure to provide accurate details for player and manager payments from 2009-10 to 2017-18.

• 5x Failure to comply with Uefa’s rules including Financial Fair Play (FFP) 2013-14 to 2017-18.

7x Breaching Premier League’s PSR rules 2015-16 to 2017-18.

35x Failure to co-operate with Premier League investigations December 2018 – Feb 2023.

Not all of these breaches relate to financial issues. Thirty-five relate to the club’s alleged failure to co-operate with the Premier League investigation from 2018 up until February 2023.

The financial allegations go back to 2009 and were highlighted in leaked material published by German newspaper Der Spiegel. City have always said these leaked emails were obtained illegally.

What do the 115 Man City charges mean?

Effectively that Manchester City cheated.

  • For nine years to 2017, the club did not provide accurate financial information about their revenue
  • That from 2009 to 2013, they didn’t give full details of how much they were paying their manager
  • From 2010 to 2016 they didn’t give full detail around payments to players
  • From 2013 to 2018 they didn’t comply with Uefa FFP regulations
  • From 2015 to 2018 they didn’t comply with the Premier League’s PSR rules
  • And finally, from 2018 onwards, they did not co-operate with the Premier League’s inquiry

Now, if we go back to Der Spiegel, the allegations were around driving more money into the club from owner Sheikh Mansour through fictitious sponsorship deals, paying then manager Roberto Mancini to act as a consultant to a club in Abu Dhabi and giving players more money than was going through the accounts.

In theory, this would have allowed City to sign more and better players than they would normally have been able to.

In the period in question, they won Premier Leagues in 2012 and 2014, finishing runners-up twice, the FA Cup in 2011 – beaten finalists in 2013, and the EFL Cup in 2014 and 2016.

Without the additional money, the argument goes, they would not have won what they did and would not have been as far advanced as they were when Pep Guardiola arrived in 2016 and turned them into the most successful team in the world, culminating in them winning the Treble in 2023.

There are a number of club officials, including director Simon Pearce, chief executive Ferran Soriano, chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak and owner Sheikh Mansour whose involvement is pivotal.

The same is also true of new Manchester United chief executive Omar Berrada, who worked for the City group in various guises from 2011 and negotiated many huge deals.

When will Man City be punished?

The honest answer is no-one knows.

There have been reports a hearing date is in place for the autumn of 2024, with the same reports suggesting a decision by the summer of 2025 – still more than a year away. City have neither confirmed nor denied this. However, the case will be detailed and the arguments multi-faceted.

City have already been largely successful in winning a similar case with Uefa – they were fined €10m by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) when they overturned a two-year Champions League ban imposed by European football’s governing body, largely for non-compliance with rules.

The club accepted the Cas ruling because they said they didn’t trust Uefa. However, a number of allegations were dismissed because Cas ruled they were time-barred.

The same rules do not apply in the Premier League.

Why is Man City case taking so long?

Guardiola said in one press conference he would like the hearing “this afternoon” so that the club could clear their name once and for all. That timescale was impossible, but there is a recognition of how long this has now been dragging on.

Der Spiegel published the leaked documents in 2018. Cas concluded the Uefa case in 2020, yet still we wait for a Premier League resolution. It is impossible to say why it took two and a half years for the Premier League to bring its case.

The only clue comes in the charges, namely that from 2018 to 2023, City allegedly did not provide the required documents and information to the Premier League and are accused of not acting in the ‘utmost good faith’.

In other words, City dragged their feet, which is at odds with Guardiola’s words.

Why are Man City not getting a points deduction?

This is the question repeated every time there is a PSR decision and completely overlooks the complexity of the City case.

Nottingham Forest and Everton didn’t actually deny a breach of PSR rules, they put forward mitigation for why they had.

The cases themselves were relatively simple. The independent commissions had to decide to what extent they accepted the mitigations, and the same for the appeal panels.

In contrast, City are facing 115 charges, some of which date back to 2009. In addition, City are said to have concealed payments made by Sheikh Mansour through third parties and disguised them as sponsorship revenue, which in itself was inflated.

This is detailed, serious stuff and the club deny it. The legal argument simply cannot be heard in the same timescale as the Everton and Forest cases. Even if the hearing is later this year, it will probably be months before a decision is reached.

Premier League chief Richard Masters was asked a similar question by UK government MPs when he appeared before the Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) committee earlier this year and replied: “I can [understand] but they are very different charges.

“If any club, the current champions or otherwise, had been found in breach of the spending rules, they would be in exactly the same position as Everton or Nottingham Forest.

“But the volume and character of the charges laid before Manchester City, which I obviously cannot talk about at all, are being heard in a completely different environment.

“There is a date set for that proceeding. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you when that is but it is progressing.”

Speaking again in April 2024, at a European Leagues meeting in London, Masters added: “The date is set. The case will resolve itself at some point in the near future.”

What are the punishments if Man City are guilty?

This is the great unknown.

The independent commission’s powers are limitless. In their 2020 judgement, Uefa banned City from the Champions League for two seasons and fined them 30m euros.

Although the punishment was overturned by Cas, it has led to a feeling they could be kicked out of the Premier League, which would be unprecedented. In more recent times a number of big clubs, including Manchester United, Barcelona, Paris St-Germain, Inter Milan and AC Milan have been fined for FFP breaches by Uefa.

Nottingham Forest and Everton have had points deductions imposed this season for breaking PSR rules, with the disciplinary panel arguing punishments should be immediate.

This – and the sheer scope of the charges City are facing – have led to varied views about the ultimate sanction should guilt be established.

City continue to argue they have done nothing wrong – and are paying huge sums to lawyers to prove it.

Could Man City be relegated?

The disciplinary commission hearing the case has limitless powers.

This means City could be kicked out of the Premier League or have a massive fine imposed – or both.

Alternatively, they might suffer a huge points deduction imposed at a specific time, including at the start of a new season.

However, any of these require a guilty verdict. Clearly, City argue they are innocent and nothing should happen.

Can Man City appeal?

This case cannot go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas). But either side could appeal and a fresh hearing arranged. There would have to be grounds for an appeal but, as with many aspects of this case, the detail would be key.

In that previous FFP case City said they did not trust Uefa, so freely admitted they did not co-operate with their investigation, preferring to take their chances with Cas, a decision that was vindicated.

That backstop of Cas is not an option with the Premier League’s investigation.

What else has Guardiola said about Man City’s charges?

Guardiola has said in the past that if City are found guilty he would leave. At other times he has referred to the club’s immediate response to the charges, which was: “The club welcomes the review of this matter by an independent commission, to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence that exists in support of its position. As such we look forward to this matter being put to rest once and for all.”

However, occasionally, when the mood takes him, he offers support to his owners, most recently this in November 2023: “[Let’s] wait until the sentence [judgment]. I know [some] are in a hurry but I know what happened with Uefa. Just wait.

“We are innocent and people have to know we are innocent until the sentence.”

Asked again about his future should the club be found guilty, Guardiola said: “I will answer when I have the sentence. You are questioning like we have been punished. And in the moment we are innocent until guilt is proved. I know the people want it. I know, I feel it. I will wait. Wait and see it and after the sentence has been done we will come here and explain it.

“But absolutely I will not consider my future [if] it depends on being here [Premier League] or being in League One. Absolutely. There is more chance to stay if we are in League One than if we were in the Champions League.”

What is FFP and PSR?

While many people refer in general to ‘FFP charges’ against City, to be pedantic, the Premier League case is mainly about alleged breaches of Profit and Sustainability rules (PSR), with part of the case including charges of breaking Uefa’s FFP regulations.

Essentially, both these sets of rules are designed to stop overspending among European clubs by either limiting losses or pinning them to overall revenue.

How does PSR and FFP work?

Clubs have to submit their financial results to the relevant governing body and show they have operated within the rules. In the cases of Nottingham Forest and Everton and PSR, they lost more than the permitted £105m over a three-year period and have suffered Premier League points deductions as a result.

Uefa’s latest changes will eventually force clubs to spend no more than 70% of their turnover on wages.

Uefa first introduced the concept of financial regulations in 2009 – the year after Sheikh Mansour bought Manchester City. The rules were implemented at the start of the 2011-12 season, which was the first season City played in the Champions League. Similar rules were adopted by the Premier League in 2013.

The Premier League’s current PSR system looks set to be in place for one more season, with a probable introduction of a new ‘spending cap’ edging closer.

That would limit clubs’ outlay on transfers, wages and agents’ fees, with a proposal to cap spending to between four and five times the amount the lowest-earning Premier League club receives in TV revenue.

None of these developments impact City’s ongoing case.

Man City charges timeline

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, Manchester City won the Treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League in 2022-23
  • November 2018: Football Leaks allegations emerge, with Der Spiegel publishing claims Manchester City breached FFP rules
  • March 2019: Uefa launches a formal investigation off the back of Der Spiegel’s findings
  • May 2019: City criticise the investigation and launch appeal process
  • November 2019: Cas deems City’s appeal inadmissible
  • February 2020: Uefa announces a two-year ban from European competitions and a 30m euros fine for the club
  • July 2020: City’s European ban overturned after Cas appeal
  • July 2021: City lose a jurisdiction ruling which allows the media to report the Premier League is continuing to investigate the champions for alleged financial breaches
  • April 2022: German newspaper Der Spiegel publishes a fresh report claiming the Premier League has been investigating the club for three years, providing detailed claims
  • Feb 2023: Premier League charges City with 115 financial breaches
  • Autumn 2024: Reported date of a potential PSR legal trial between the Premier League and City
  • Summer 2025: Reported date of a verdict on the trial related to 115 charges

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