Man City 115 charges explained and broken down as impact on Liverpool clear

After an investigation spanning four years that covered a period of 14 Premier League campaigns, Manchester City were hit with more than 100 charges relating to alleged breaches of profit and sustainability regulations in June 2023.

And those charges have reared their head once again as City put themselves in pole position to lift their fourth consecutive league title when they face West Ham on Sunday.

Indeed, Pep Guardiola may not like it, but the achievements of his side will seemingly always be overshadowed by the spectre of 115 charges yet to be resolved.

In an unprecedented move the Premier League outlined the findings of their initial investigation, where charges dating back to the 2009/10 campaign to the 2017/18 season were outlined alongside more recent alleged breaches relating to the investigation itself.

The investigation began following the 2018 publishing of leaked documents by German media outlet Der Spiegel that alleged Manchester City had repeatedly breached Financial Fair Play regulations through the inflating of sponsorship deals by leaning on simpatico relationship that existed in the MENA region with City owners since 2008, the Abu Dhabi based City Football Group, helmed by majority shareholder Sheikh Mansour.

Also alleged in that initial set of leaked documents was that a significant portion of former manager Roberto Mancini's wage was being accounted for via a third party and not in the club's own financial statements, while there were also allegations made around illegal approaches to young players.

The first set of alleged breaches outlined by the Premier League in their report relates to City, Premier League champions six times under the ownership of City Football Group, allegedly breaching league rules requiring provision "in utmost good faith" of "accurate financial information that gives a true and fair view of the club’s financial position." That relates to allegations that the value of some of the club's sponsorship deals have been inflated, with money being paid by the club’s owners instead of sponsors that were linked to Abu Dhabi.

The sponsorship deals are understood to related to Etihad airlines and telecommunications partner Etisalat, with the allegations made that the money for those deals had derived from from Sheikh Mansour’s Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG) company.

The second set of alleged breaches relate to the breaking of rules "requiring a member club to include full details of manager remuneration in its relevant contracts with its manager," those charges related to seasons 2009/10 to 2012/13, a period when Mancini was manager between December 2009 and May 2013. ADUG were also involved in the allegations around Mancini's contract, with the Der Spiegel report having outlined that the Italian manager's firm Italy International Services issues quarterly invoices to ADUG which were then paid via a consultancy arrangement with Abu Dhabi-based football club Al Jazira. Mancini's first contract with City was for a base salary of £1.45m net, but his company in Italy was also allegedly paid £1.75m per annum from Al Jazira, a club where he had to coach for four days of the year as part of the arrangement.

The third set deals with alleged breaches of Premier League rules requiring clubs to comply with UEFA's FFP regulations for the period between 2013/14 to 2017/18. City were landed with a two-year ban from European competition and a £25m fine in February 2020 after a UEFA investigation found them to have breached FFP rules. That, however, was overturned upon appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in June 2020, the fine reduced to £9m.

The CAS panel that overturned UEFA's decision that City should be banned from the Champions League for two years acknowledged that the club had shown a 'disregard' for the principle that clubs must cooperate with a governing body's investigations, and conducted an 'obstruction of the investigations'.

On the charges brought by UEFA that City Football Group had sought to disguise its own funding as independent sponsorship by the state's commercial companies in a bid to drive up revenues and allow them to spend to greater extent in the transfer market and on wages, the CAS determined that "most of the alleged breaches were either not established or time-barred."

That latter point has not been the case with the Premier League's investigation, which has no restriction on the length of time since an alleged offence. That has led to the many charges that the club now face, charges that will be ruled on by an independent commission in due course.

A fourth set of charges relate to alleged breaches of the club's P&S rules between 2015/16 and 2017/18, as well as more recent charges, from December 2018 onwards, relating to 'co-operation' from the club around the Premier League's investigation into their financial affairs.

The charges brought against Manchester City, alleging more than a decade of financial impropriety, have potentially profound consequences if upheld by the independent commission, with punishments from major fines to points deduction, even expulsion from the Premier League itself, all potential outcomes given the severity and longevity of the charges that have been brought.

In their most recent set of financial accounts for 2022/23, Manchester City's revenues reached a record-breaking £712m with a £80m profit, figures that placed them at the summit of the global revenue table for football. Liverpool revenues sat static at just shy of £600m for the same period.

Competing with City's spending power and trying to match the revenues that they have generated has been a tall order for Liverpool, who developed a title rivalry with Pep Guardiola's side.

One of the seasons where charges have arrived for City is the 2013/14 campaign, a season where Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool were pipped to the Premier League title by two points by City, then managed by Manuel Pellegrini.

Under Premier League rules, Manchester City would not be able to appeal any sanction to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if found guilty.

After the charges were announced, City released a statement which said: "Manchester City FC is surprised by the issuing of these alleged breaches of the Premier League Rules, particularly given the extensive engagement and vast amount of detailed materials that the EPL has been provided with.

"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."

A version of this article was first published in June 2023