Titles stripped, points deduction? Man City could get answer in 'months' but Liverpool reality clear

Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp shake hands before Man City takes on Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium.
Man City manager Pep Guardiola and Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp. -Credit:Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

The hearing about Manchester City’s 115 charges for alleged breaches of financial rules could take place in 2024 according to Sky News. The charges were first announced in February 2023 and Liverpool and the other clubs have been waiting for any sort of resolution.

Manchester City, who is set to win a fourth successive Premier League title this weekend, strongly denies any wrongdoing. Among the charges leveled against the club are failures to provide accurate financial information, failure to provide accurate details for player and manager payments, failure to comply with UEFA’s rules including Financial Fair Play, breaching the Premier League’s PSR rules, and failure to cooperate with Premier League investigations.

Everton and Nottingham Forest have both received points deductions this season, leading to questions about what might happen to Manchester City if it is found guilty. But Pep Guardiola's side stands accused of 115 times as many charges as Everton, hence why the process is taking much longer.

READ MORE: More details of Jürgen Klopp's last game emerge amid Liverpool plans and PGMOL decision

READ MORE: Ex-refs chief says Jürgen Klopp right on 'crazy' call that cost Liverpool - 'Some laws are nonsense'

Manchester City insists that it is wholly innocent but either it or the Premier League will emerge looking bad. Either Manchester City will be found to have done wrong, or the league's competence for leveling so many accusations at one of its clubs will be questioned if it cannot then stand those up.

Either way, a resolution is needed. According to a Daily Mail report from late last year, City and the Premier League have tentatively agreed to go to an independent panel in late autumn, with the verdict expected in the summer of 2025. Richard Masters, the Premier League CEO, has previously outlined that a date has been set but said he couldn't disclose when that was.

As it stands, the most likely punishment is a points deduction for Manchester City rather than retrospective stripping of titles, though given the scale of the charges, nothing is off the table. But with 115 charges to Everton's one, a steep precedent has already been set.

If Manchester City is found to have done wrong, though, whatever the punishment, it will not be enough. The titles, even in the event of them being stripped, have already been celebrated. Liverpool, for instance, has already mourned the manner in which it was beaten to the league title in 2014, part of the period for which Manchester City is under investigation. It used missing out by a point in 2019 for motivation to go one better 12 months later. Either way, history cannot be rewritten.

The reality is that even if Liverpool was awarded that league triumph, it would hardly feel like a win for the Reds. Technically, Steven Gerrard would have won the league — but really, it would not feel any different.

In the case of a points deduction, the precedent now set would mean it would need to be a huge one. If you get 10 points for one misdemeanor, Manchester City could be in for many times that amount. But even that would not be able to put right the wrongdoing of the past.

For the potential offender, titles could be tainted, ironically given an asterisk that would be meaningful, unlike the one that many were so keen to add to Liverpool's victory in 2020. But for the Reds, Arsenal, Manchester United and others who have missed out on leagues or spots in the Champions League, it would be too little, too late.

Whatever the eventual outcome in the Manchester City case — and the one that Chelsea is involved in as well — the one thing that needs to happen in the future is that it doesn't come to this again. Finances and that side of the game need to be checked as you go along, not years later — otherwise, there is simply no punishment that is 100 per cent befitting and fair.

An original version of this article was first published on 22 November 2023. It has since been updated.