The 3 Reasons Why UEFA Won’t Come Down That Hard on City for FFP

On Tuesday morning (15th April), City fans woke up to this article on the Telegraph website.

It was to report on the news that UEFA are meeting to discuss FFP and identify those clubs that are currently in breach of its conditions. Personally, I believe those conditions to be fundamentally flawed, but that’s for another post.

According to the report, City will be punished for posting big losses during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons. Initial rumours of a transfer embargo were quickly dismissed, whilst the other potential outcome of a ban from UEFA competitions was also speedily put down.

Many believe City will be hit with a hefty fine. Although the irony of fining a club for spending too much appears to be lost on UEFA, the Blues are just a year or two away from breaking even, have invested huge sums on the stadium and have built an academy that’s the envy of any sports team in the world; are our owners really that bad?

However, I honestly believe the punishment really won’t be as severe as some hacks would have you believe. And this is for three reasons:

  • Paris Saint-Germain
  • Platini (Laurent, not Michel)
  • Qatar

Paris Saint-Germain

UEFA don’t like what City have done. Platini (Michel, for the moment) has always took a disdain to English clubs like us and Chelsea coming along to upset the established European order.

But, PSG have made it awkward for both UEFA and their president. Whatever punishment they give us, they’ve got to give to them. They’ve spent huge sums on players like us, whilst playing in a league that doesn’t generate anywhere near the same amount of TV and prize money as the Premier League. In short, their books and balance sheets will probably make them wince more than ours.

If the French club hadn’t risen to prominence as they have done in the last couple of years, I reckon UEFA would throw the book at City. So why wouldn’t they want to touch the Parisiens? Well that’s for the other two reasons..

Platini (Laurent)

This is the son of Michel, the bastion of morality and fairness in European football. It just so happens, though, that Laurent works for Burrda Sports, a sporting brand owned by the Qatar Sports Investment (QSI) group. And who do they own? Paris Saint-Germain. You can read about it here.

This is a huge conflict of interest. Would Michel really sanction a big punishment that would affect the people who employ his son?

Then there’s the third reason…

Qatar

The country that PSG and their owners want to promote with their successes on field. It also happens to be the nation that FIFA infamously handed the 2022 World Cup to. Can you honestly see the world’s football governing body allowing its European subsidiary to unsettle Qatar and the people that controls its football interests in any way? Let’s face it, they’ve got bigger fish to fry where that’s concerned at the moment (slave labour, air conditioned stadiums, accusations of bribes for votes, I could go on).

In short, City have nothing to worry about. Sure, we might get a fine. But don’t expect it to be one that burns any major hole in our coffers. Our lawyers and board will make sure of that, whilst we can also thank PSG, Laurent Platini and Qatar for well and truly tying UEFA’s hands.

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Eriksson Represents All European Officials and City Must Change To Conform With Them

“This guy is doing my bloody head in” said the old bloke sat behind me at the Etihad on Tuesday evening on at least five or six occasions.

He was of course referring to the man in the middle, Jonas Eriksson. And boss Manuel Pellegrini was clearly irked by him also, as one of the most timid managers in the game lost it in his post-match press conference and insisted that not only did Eriksson cost the Blues the match, but that he had planned to wrong an error he had made against Barcelona in 2012 from the first whistle to the last.

It always sounds like sour grapes when a team loses and fans, players and managers alike proceed to blame poor refereeing. However, there is no denying that Mr Eriksson and his officials had a bit of a mare. The game’s changing moment, Martin Demichelis’ foul on Lionel Messi, was undoubtedly a red card, but outside the box. Dani Alves should have been sent out for a string of bad tackles on City players. And Cesc Fabregas was wrongly ruled offside late on as he crossed to set up a Barca tap in.

Yet none of this is what infuriated the masses inside the stadium. Those are the kind of mistakes that are par for the course, sadly. No, it was Eriksson’s constant blowing up for even the most innocuous of challenges.

This isn’t a trait adopted by just this one referee- it’s indicative of officials across the continent.

Understandly Pellegrini was angry and upset after the game, but he was wrong to suggest that this is just a problem with Eriksson. Annoyingly Gary Neville hit the nail on the head once again when he tweeted this as the fallout began:

nev1nev2nev3

The former United full back was talking about his side’s trip to Istanbul in 1993 where they were defeated in one of the most hostile atmospheres there has ever been on the European stage. United were convinced that the referee that night, Kurt Röthlisberger, was “on the take,” such was his performance and apparent favouritism towards the Turks. Although the Swiss was banned for life four years later after being found guilty of bribery, subsequent investigations found nothing from this particular match to suggest that he had taken a back hander.

The point that Neville was making is that referees are completely different in the Champions League to those that we contend with in the Premier League every week. Every little touch, 50/50 or shoulder-to-shoulder challenge and the whistle will be blown.

This was the case on Tuesday with Eriksson. Watching Alvaro Negredo tussle in the air as the lone striker alongside Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano was like watching England play in the World Cup; physical challenges involving a strong striker being penalised, to English eyes, for no apparent reason.

Perhaps Neville is right and that City were displaying “European immaturity.” After all, this is only our third year as a Champions League outfit. What is clear though is that Eriksson represents all referees that City will come across in Europe. And if the Blues are to avoid the kind of evening that they’ve just endured, then they will have to adapt their game in European competition to accommodate this style, for better or worse.

Howard Webb, Phil Dowd, Mark Clattenburg- I will never say a bad word about you again… (I probably will).