'Really worried' - Man City FFP punishment could be 'significant' as expert makes fresh prediction

Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak and Sheikh Mansour pictured at the 2023 Champions League final
-Credit: (Image: Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

A football finance boffin believes Manchester City are showing signs of worry over their 115 Financial Fair Play charges, following the club's decision to take legal action against the Premier League concerning related party transactions.

Set to commence on Monday, the lawsuit challenges the regulations designed to prevent club owners from excessively sponsoring their teams through affiliated businesses at rates above fair market value. City contends that these rules are in conflict with UK competition laws aimed at maintaining a level playing field in commerce.

In the event of a victory, City also plans to pursue damages from the Premier League. This development emerges as the Blues await the outcome of the hearing for the 115 FFP charges levelled against them.

The Premier League has accused City of submitting false information regarding player and manager remuneration from 2009 to 2018 and hindering the inquiry process. City have consistently rejected these claims, asserting they possess 'irrefutable evidence' to vindicate themselves.

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Commenting on the impending legal battle and the FFP allegations, football finance guru Professor Rob Wilson spoke to OLBG about City's litigation being a desperate measure.

"There's obviously been a huge amount of pressure on the Premier League as a consequence of Everton and Nottingham Forest being deducted points and there'll be a big case with Leicester City when they get promoted into the league next season," he said.

"Everything was pointing to the case between Manchester City and the Premier League starting in the autumn so this is a last hurrah to try and prevent all of that from going on by saying our lawyers are better than your lawyers. It's another attempt to pull the resources of the Premier League in multiple different directions.

"I think that's the reality of why we're having to wait so long for the case with the 115 charges to be heard, because City will have been wrapping the Premier League up in all sorts of litigation and legal discussions. They are playing a legal game and the only people that are winning in all this are the lawyers.

"I think it's a hail mary from Manchester City, a last throw of the dice to prevent going to court."

Wilson believes that despite this law case against the Premier League, the Blues will be forced to face a punishment from the Premier League.

"If City are found guilty of the 115 charges, I think there'll be significant points deductions and a major fine," he added. "The only parallel we've got, of course in this sense it being alleged financial doping, is to what Lance Armstrong did in cycling. He had all his titles stripped from him and had to pay back loads of prize money.

"The only team sport we have seen this in is Rugby Union when they relegated Saracens into the Championship out of the Premiership. They are now back to the kind of top of the game because they've been able to restructure themselves pretty well.

"I think rationally you would only relegate City into the Championship because there's no point in relegating them into League Two or non-league because they'll ultimately then come back through as soon as possible and it just makes those competitions a bit of a mockery. I was always of the view that they would settle this out of court.

"They would never get there. So hence my surprise when I saw the case yesterday which again probably suggests that they're now really worried about the sanction that might happen if they are found guilty on those 115 plus charges.

"If it was me, I'd put in significant transfer embargoes, but over an extended period of time so that the impact had longevity rather than was just in a single season."