Premier League anticipating years-long battle with Man City over FFP regulation breaches

Premier Leagues executives are bracing themselves for the Manchester City case to go on longer than two years without a resolution, as clubs representatives gather for what is set to be a tense competition meeting at the end of this week.

It is meanwhile not automatic that expulsion would mean going into the Championship if the alleged breaches of financial rules were proven, as that would require the English Football League to change their rules and could see the Abu Dhabi project face a humiliating climb through the divisions.

The Premier League had already scheduled its quarterly meeting for the end of this week, although it was expected that was to discuss the fall-out from the government White Paper on football governance reform. Even if that had not been delayed past 8 February, though, the talks are set to be almost completely dominated by the City case. The Premier League have a dinner on Thursday night and senior executives have told the Independent that they are anticipating a feisty occasion with a lot of finger-pointing.

While there are some differences of opinion within the Premier League over Financial Fair Play regulations, the story is described as “one of the most unifying factors since the Super League”.

For all the suspicion and politicking that can dominate the 20 clubs, there is a genuine concern at the idea of the league’s rules being disrespected to such an extent.

That’s especially the case given the international branding of the Premier League is based on its image as a glossy and clean product.

City’s general attitude of belligerence and intent to fight “every procedural point” nevertheless means that clubs are anticipating a wait of over two years.

That hasn’t stopped possible punishments dominating private conversations, though, particularly since proof of alleged breaches could completely reshape English football.

While some executives are expecting a mere points deduction, others believe that the stakes are so high and charges so serious – with one describing it as “all or nothing” – that guilt would have to see sanctions as severe as expulsion.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

If it did come to that extreme, it is far from a guarantee that City would automatically go into the Championship. This is a key difference between outright expulsion and relegation from a points deduction.

The EFL’s current rules would require any new team coming in to start at the very bottom, if they were to be accepted. The rules would have to be adapted to allow City to go straight into the second tier, if it went to such a doomsday scenario.