MANCHESTER CITY are being warned they could face their D-day over financial fair play as early as next year — and “all hell will break loose” if they lose.
And Chelsea have been told it is “inevitable” they will be in trouble after admitting to rule-breaking during Roman Abramovich’s reign.
Manchester City will almost certainly be relegated if charges against them are proven a former club advisor has warned.
And football finance expert Stefan Borson said: “There are too many things that ‘might’ happen if City are found against. It will be very serious — all hell will break loose.
“It will turn into an enormous story — not just in respect of football but much wider than that. So many parties will be implicated.
“It will be an incredibly explosive situation.”
Lawyer Borson, who was previously an adviser at the Etihad, insisted that demotion would be on the cards if City and Chelsea were found guilty.
He added: “From a football perspective, it’s impossible to think City would not be relegated if all of these things were found against them.”
When City were charged with 115 FFP rule breaches in February, there were claims it could take up to four years for the results of the investigation to be known.
Borson says it could be sooner, adding: “The hearing is likely to be in 2024 at some point.
“The Premier League are bound to be concerned about what they would do if City are found guilty.
“The fact the League charged City with such serious matters shows you this is a very bold move.”
Chelsea have admitted they broke rules in the Abramovich era — but hope the fact a new regime is now in place will protect them.
That is highly unlikely according to Borson, who believes they are also in danger of breaking profit and sustainability rules following new US owner Todd Boehly’s £1billion transfer splurge since he took over.
Borson said: “They will have to charge Chelsea for off-book payments (under Abramovich) — I don’t see any way around it and it will inevitably be very serious for them.
“I’m confident they won’t get leniency simply because they’ve admitted it and it happened in the previous ownership.”
Todd Boehly could be forced to deal with potential charges against Chelsea from the Roman Abramovich era.
Q&A with Stefan Borson
Football finance expert STEFAN BORSON, a former adviser to City, breaks down what could happen to Everton, Man City and Chelsea in the months ahead.
EVERTON’S ten-point deduction for breaching financial rules was the biggest sanction ever handed down by the Premier League. But it left two of the competition’s most recent winners — Manchester City and Chelsea — fearing what could be coming their way. The city has strenuously denied any wrongdoing and is ready to defend itself against 115 charges levelled at it. Meanwhile, Chelsea are also likely to be in the dock but will plead for leniency owing to the misdemeanours occurring in the Roman Abramovich era.
HOW LIKELY IS IT THAT EVERTON WILL GET THEIR POINTS BACK? They have said they will appeal — and I don’t think it will take long. I don’t see many issues they can put to an appeal commission and get a different answer. Overall, I can’t see what they can argue to materially change the outcome. I think their best case is maybe a two-point reduction. Eight points rather than ten, maybe six. Based on the four-season advantage as per the commission, a minimum of two points per season feels reasonable. I don’t think they have got much hope of getting it lower.
EVERTON WILL BE WATCHING THE OTHER CASES WITH INTEREST, WON’T THEY? They will — but it is completely irrelevant. Each case is judged on its merits. If City, Chelsea or others get any penalties in the next year or two, it will be irrelevant to Everton by then.
WHY IS THE CITY CASE TAKING SO LONG? The first thing they say in the Everton ruling is that it was a complicated case. It also says in the trial bundle there were 28,000 documents — not just pages, documents. Even for a relatively simple case like Everton’s. City’s is far more complicated — it goes over many more years, and many more issues and it just takes a very long time to get it to the trial. Essentially, Everton was done quicker as it was a simpler case. If it was in the High Court, the trial itself might last six months as it’s that complicated. It won’t take that at the independent commission but they are going to have to find a way somehow to get to the nub of these issues in a way that’s fair but deals with all the issues.
WHEN DO YOU THINK IT WILL BE HEARD? I’ve read that it will be 2024 and I think that’s likely to be later in the year. It can’t be expedited because it is so complicated. The hearing itself will take longer than Everton’s and I’d be surprised if it didn’t take at least three months after the hearing to get the judgement. And given the stakes, there is going to be an appeal by City if they were to lose. There’s no way City could just sit back and take it.
THERE’S TALK OF RELEGATION IF CITY LOSE THE CASE, ISN’T THERE? There are too many things that ‘might’ happen if the City are found against. It will be very serious — all hell will break loose. It will turn into an enormous story — not just in respect of football but much wider than that. So many parties will be implicated. It will be an incredibly explosive situation. From a football perspective, it’s impossible to think City would not be relegated if all of these things were found against them. How do you do that? A 100-point deduction? Just straight relegation? If they are found guilty of non-cooperation — like at CAS — it is harder to see any points being taken off them. There’s no way you could argue non non-cooperation has given the City a sporting advantage, so the City will say there should be no sporting sanction.
HOW LIKELY IS IT THEY WILL BE FOUND GUILTY? To find against City you are going to have to prove dishonesty against several people.No commission is going to want to do that. You saw they were careful to say Everton was not dishonest, even though they found the club had breached the duty of good faith. If the case is proven against City it is deception, fraudulent accounting, conspiracy — all very serious stuff. But the Premier League have to prove it — and they have to prove it in a forum which is not suited for such a complex case with such serious allegations.
BUT WHAT IF THE VERDICT COMES OUT MID-SEASON AND IT’S RELEGATION OR A 100-POINT DEDUCTION? Logically, the commission shouldn’t care less about the timing. The Premier League are bound to be concerned about what they would do if City are guilty. People say it’s all a stitch-up but the fact they charged City with serious matters shows you that it isn’t a stitch-up. It’s a very bold move from the Premier League.
AND WHAT ABOUT CHELSEA — THEY’RE IN BOTHER TOO, RIGHT? They will have to charge Chelsea — I don’t see there is any way around it. The Chelsea situation is inevitable. They have admitted to some or all of these off-book payments. It’s very serious despite the admission because they were systematic, they were deliberately concealed, clearly fraudulent and clearly in breach of the rules. I’m confident they won’t get leniency just because they have admitted it and it happened in the previous ownership. I think it will be a straightforward case with the admission. But the mitigation of admission and co-operation will not outweigh the aggravating factors of the severity of what they’ve done so I think it’s going to be very serious for Chelsea.
IS THAT TOUGH ON THE NEW OWNERS? You could say that — but there’s a follow-up Chelsea situation which is that they could also potentially fail profit and sustainability rules either for last year, this year or both. I’ve said for a while that’s coming. I’ve had a look at the numbers and I don’t see how they successfully make the numbers add up.