Are UEFA sounding their own death knell?

By Ray.

Now that the hyperbole, ignorance and sensationalist articles from the weekend are in the past we can look at the UEFA European ban on the Champions of England in a less knee-jerk and more objective manner.

It’s interesting to note that the two-year ban seems to have caught everyone out. From the in-the-knows that said City would get a one year ban to those that said City would receive no ban, all we’ve learnt is that they are not quite so in-the-know as they’d have us believe.

We’ve also had some filthy and disgusting articles and comments from journalists and opposition fans who can’t disguise their glee that one of their main competitors will be banned from the Champions League for two years with some even calling for a Premier League points reduction and the stripping of titles.

How green-eyed with envy these boneheads are is plain for everyone to see. Other leagues, clubs and fans simply cannot stand another team threatening to take what they’ve shared with the Cartel for so long. They can’t stand to see fair competition and the level playing field they piously declare they want.

Maybe City have broken some rules, but others seem to have broken financial rules and gotten away with it. Without using this as an excuse, all clubs should be treated equally.

Let’s look beyond what other clubs have allegedly been doing to consider whether FFP is a fair system or not and look at the basic starting point.

Did Manchester City do something wrong?

I couldn’t honestly tell you because I genuinely don’t know.

How could I or anyone know, not party to what’s been going on at City or UEFA? We’re all speculating, trying to read between the lines as best we can. At least that’s what the genuinely honest ones amongst us are trying to do. Sadly as always, we have plenty of ignorant, disingenuous journalists and commentators who just spin the little that we do know into negative stories.

They just can’t hide their hatred and fear of City and surely they must taste their own bile when they go to sleep, such is their hostility and loathing of a club who only a few years previously was regarded fondly.

There’s been some quite frankly ridiculous talk of Pep and the players leaving; of players not wanting to sign; of City struggling to meet FFP requirements for those years we’d be outside the Champions League (potentially losing up to £100M each season from the UCL would cause us serious issues for sure).

Whilst we’re looking at what some journalists have been saying, let’s look at the shameful comments on the allegation that Sheikh Mansour purchased Man City as a sportswashing vehicle to cover up what goes on in his country.

Poppycock. That’s a load of old drivel and lazy journalism. Sheikh Mansour’s ownership of City and the brilliant, successful football we’ve seen over the last ten years hasn’t made people look upon Abu Dhabi in a more favourable light. In fact it’s probably led to far more questions being asked and has a shone a greater light on the country.

As City’s dynamic chairman Khaldoon Al-Mubarak said to Gary James back in 2008 – buying City made financial sense. Let’s say Sheikh Mansour invested $2billion in the project and it’s currently valued at about $5billion (based on the 10% sale of shares to Silver Lake for $500million). To me that seems a very healthy return on investment.

And there’s much more to come with developments still ongoing around Manchester and the talk of a new 20,000 seater music venue at the Etihad Campus which will bring in countless millions more in profits.

Let the talk of sportswashing remain the talk of lazy journalists who have brought their prejudiced ideas to the fore just to make themselves a buck or two because lazy racism sells.

Back to the ban.

Many people have said: ‘If Manchester City broke FFP rules then they should be punished. They signed up to the rules so they should accept whatever sanction UEFA doles out’.

If we did break the rules we deserve to be punished. I don’t think you can argue against that. But we are allowed to appeal the verdict and punishment and we will be doing so. More on that later.

City say they have done nothing wrong and will prove it. They say the UEFA process is flawed. I sincerely hope that this isn’t hot air and that they’ve got strong evidence to back up their convictions.

The Der Spiegel emails don’t look good for us and certainly don’t show City in a positive light. The club have countered that the emails were stolen and taken out of context. None of us really know what the proper context was.

I think there are probably far easier ways of getting extra income into the club than to take silly risks. Unless of course we were arrogant enough to think that we wouldn’t get caught because no-one would read these emails.

For now, I’m standing by my club. And I think that’s the proper stance to take.

Do I trust UEFA to be fair and impartial – No, I do not. Do I think they are being pushed around by certain self-proclaimed elite clubs? – Yes I do.

City are appealing to CAS and if they aren’t satisfied with the outcome then I expect them to take this further and into the Swiss courts.

I believe that the appeal to CAS will be about the due process over which City feel UEFA have ridden roughshod. Even if City are exonerated by CAS, I don’t think that will be the end of it.

If City win on a technicality some of the mud slung in our direction will stick and the hierarchy in Abu Dhabi will be stung. They won’t like that at all and I think they’ll go for the jugular whether they are exonerated by CAS or not.

I think we could finally see FFP being tested in court. It does seem odd that an owner isn’t allowed to invest whatever money he wants into his business.

If they lose in court could this be the end of the UEFA?

I don’t know if that would be the case, but their relationship with the elite clubs would be much weakened. These elite clubs fear real competition and want to keep as much of the spoils as possible in their grubby hands. That’s why they’ll do whatever possible to maintain the status quo. That’s why we got FFP in the first place.

But there could be another problem on UEFA’s horizon.

Back in May, when the first story about a potential Champions League ban was leaked, I joked that we should set up an Abu Dhabi midweek invitational cup/league with prize money to the winners of up to £100M. This would sort out any financial shortfall Man City might suffer from not being in UEFA sanctioned competitions.

Guardian scribe Jonathan Wilson said something similar at the weekend and took it a step further:

What if Man City spend their two years out of UEFA competition playing lucrative friendlies around the world? What if they show that you don’t actually need UEFA, and it’s (already barely significant) concerns for smaller clubs, to thrive? What if FIFA were willing to provide the umbrella of a new competition? There has always been the existential threat hanging over UEFA.’

 We know it’s all about power and money.

That’s why FIFA want to expand the Club World Cup and UEFA wants to expand the Champions League to have a second group stage. That’s why Manchester United are shown on live TV almost every time they play in the FA cup regardless of who they’re playing, and why the premier league wants the most marketable teams to be contesting the title every year. Football as we know it, is over. Some would say it’s already been over for years.

As Brazilian journalist Rafael Hernández says:

What’s bloody fair about a dozen European football clubs monopolising most of the money? Nothing. Bayern, PSG, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and other of the super clubs already are out of control, there’s no going back. There’s no fairness.’

Thirty years from now if the top five leagues stay the same, we’re likely to have Barça and Madrid with 90% of La Liga titles, same for Bayern in Germany, PSG in France and even Juventus in Italy. UCL will be only won by the top clubs, forget smaller club fairy tales.’

 ‘The top five leagues won’t stay the same, the European Super League is an inevitability and will come to life this decade. Watch this space. The super clubs want more money and they will get it.’

Will trying to appease the elite clubs with their punishment of Manchester City be the start of the death spiral for UEFA?

Time will tell.