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Man City hearing over 115 charges in ‘near future’ – PL chief

Written by on April 27, 2024

The Premier League’s CEO Richard Masters said on Friday that the hearing over Manchester City’s 115 alleged finance breaches will take place in the “near future.”

The spotlight on City’s charges has intensified in recent months after Nottingham Forest and Everton were docked points for failing to meet the division’s Profit and Sustainability Rules (PSR), with the Merseyside club falling foul of two separate sanctions.

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Asked about the fairness of City winning the league with the 115 charges still outstanding at a European Leagues’ online news conference on Friday, Masters said: “We can’t comment on the case, the date is set. The case will resolve itself at some point in the near future. I can’t make any further comment on it.”

City were charged by the Premier League in February 2023 for the 115 alleged breaches that had taken place over the course of nine seasons. The Premier League’s investigation into City’s finances had taken over four years to complete, and the charges were presented to an independent commission which will be held in private and can impose open-ended sanctions, including fines, points deductions or relegation from the Premier League.

City were charged with breaches of rules that required the club, according to the Premier League, to provide “accurate financial information that gives a true and fair view of the club’s financial position.” The club were also been accused of failing to cooperate with the investigation.

City have consistently denied the charges since their surprise emergence in February 2023, with a statement at the time saying: “The club welcomes the review of this matter by an independent commission, to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence that exists in support of its position.

“As such we look forward to this matter being put to rest once and for all.”

At a news conference in November 2023, City manager Pep Guardiola called for patience and said: “You are questioning like we have been punished.

“At this moment we are innocent until guilt is proved. I know the people want it. I know, I feel it… Wait and see it and after the sentence has been done we will come here and explain it.”

In January, Masters told a UK government select committee that a date for the hearing had been set, and that while he understood the frustrations of fans who had seen Everton’s case decided on more quickly, the two instances were “very different charges.”

“If any club, whether they are the current champions or otherwise, had been found in breach of the spending rules for year 2023, they would be in exactly the same position as Everton or Nottingham Forest,” Masters said.

“The volume and character of the charges laid before Man City, which I cannot talk about at all, are being heard in a completely different environment.”

City have enjoyed unprecedented success in the period in question, culminating in last year’s treble-winning season, which included the first Champions League trophy in the club’s history.

Under Pep Guardiola, they have won five of the last six Premier League titles and remain in the race for this year’s prize. If they were to win the league again, it would mark the first time any club has won the Premier League in four straight seasons.

At the online conference, Masters also discussed the growing level of concern over the footballing calendar and the need to improve Video Assistant Referee (VAR) processes.

“It is getting to a tipping point,” Masters said of the calendar. “The feedback we have from players is that there is too much football being played and there is constant expansion.

“The Premier League hasn’t changed shape. What has changed over the last few decades is the march of international and regional football competitions.

“But if you pour more liquid into a cup that is already full, it will overflow. That is what is happening at the moment, not just in terms of the calendar but in terms of the players’ ability to be able to perform at their best in the competitions they want to play in.”

On VAR, Masters criticised Forest’s statements over refereeing decisions in their defeat to Everton last weekend, but said he understood that standards could be raised.

“We know VAR needs to improve and part of that is getting rules to be upgraded so there is more space to communicate with fans. We want to improve the situation for fans,” Masters said.

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