carl_feedthegoat wrote:UEFA DID shift the goalposts over Man City FFP punishment
Manchester City are likely to fight any fresh punishment over the Football Leaks allegations and this could be at the heart of their case
By Stuart Brennan
13:51, 6 DEC 2018
UEFA DID move the goalposts when it came to Manchester City’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) calculations.
And that may explain why European football’s governing body backed off and came to an agreement with the Blues in 2014, rather than get involved in a protracted court battle.
It could also be a factor in whether UEFA decide to follow through on their claim this week that they are taking the Football Leaks allegations seriously.
The recent revelations about the way City circumvented UEFA’s FFP rules have led to calls for the Blues to be subjected to a fresh investigation.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin confirmed this week that his body were looking at the allegations, published in German newspaper Der Spiegel. He described it as “a concrete case”.
But UEFA have refused to reveal any further details, and City have remained quiet, other than to say the emails at the centre of the storm had been illegally obtained and that “the attempt to damage the club’s reputation is organised and clear.”
That has led to speculation that UEFA have known the content of the Football Leaks material all along – and so have no fresh basis to punish City.
The Blues were fined £49m and subjected to squad, wage and spending caps in 2014 after agreeing a “settlement” with UEFA when they were found guilty of a breach of the FFP rules.
At the time, City sources claimed they were unhappy as UEFA had moved the goalposts, but did not elaborate as they were talking to UEFA about a solution.
City fan Colin Savage has delved into the matter and found the “smoking gun” which shows that UEFA did indeed move the goalposts, if you will forgive the mixed metaphor.
It seems this was right at the heart of the FFP settlement between City and UEFA.
The “shifted goalposts” idea revolves around the way wages for players who were signed before 2010 – in other words, before the FFP rules had been revealed – was taken into consideration.
Clearly it would have been unfair to punish clubs for fulfilling their contractual obligations to pay players.
FIFA chief on City FFP deal
To help clubs with this, UEFA sent out a 'toolkit' in 2011 to help them factor in players’ wages, and allowing them a loss which exceeded the allowance in FFP, as long as it was solely down to those wages, and the club could show its financial position was improving.
At the crux of Savage’s argument is the fact that, in 2013, UEFA sent out a new toolkit which changed those conditions – and at that point it was too late for City to react.
They failed the FFP tests, partly due to this, and were prepared to go to court to defend their position.
The change in the toolkit would have formed part of their defence, along with City’s reasoning that FFP itself was anti-competitive and so contravened European law.
The threat of fighting a legal action which they were not certain to win seems to have curbed UEFA’s zeal, and they set about coming to a settlement with City.
This was described in some quarters as being a case of then-UEFA secretary-general Gianni Infantino striking a secret deal with the Blues. That was a stretch - such settlements were written into the very fabric of FFP.
City would not have taken expulsion from the Champions League lying down, but they reluctantly accepted the lesser punishments meted out.
Football finance expert Rob Wilson of Sheffield Hallam University has confirmed, after examining both toolkits, that UEFA’s change did make a difference, although he says that alone would not explain City’s breach.
“On face value the two toolkits do appear to move the goalposts somewhat,” said Wilson.
“The changes were fairly well documented at the time and, without being naive, all the clubs signed up to them. However, it would explain, in part, the alleged breach.
“I'm not sure I'd go so far to say that it was impossible for City to meet them.
“The changing of the goalposts, I'm sure, led UEFA to a more reasonable penalty. It's the other side to that particular coin.”
So it seems that while the toolkit issue was not entirely a “smoking gun” that proved UEFA had turned City over, as some fans believe, it did give the Blues cause for complaint and would no doubt have formed a central prop to any court case.
UEFA’s current stance is unknown. Ceferin’s words this week has been interpreted as an indication that they HAVE learned something new from the Football Leaks allegations.
But it is just as possible that his words were platitudes. Only time will tell.
City’s silence also means we do not know how they would react if UEFA did try to impose serious sanction, with some claiming that a Champions League ban is a possibility.
But, given their readiness to go to court four years ago, they are unlikely to take it lightly.
They would be likely to challenge the whole basis of FFP in court, claiming that its original purpose of stopping reckless owners from plunging clubs into damaging debt, has been perverted into a bid to protect the traditional European elite from wealthy, ambitious new owners.
They would also point out that UEFA made a play out of the fact that FFP was meant to help clubs with their finances, rather than punish them. The governing body would be hard-pressed to show how FFP has actually helped City, by restricting debt-free investment.
They would also point to the toolkit switch which contributed to City’s inability to meet FFP targets – and perhaps explains why they felt the need for the kind of financial shenanigans which have been claimed by Football Leaks.
City would also demand to see the evidence, which they claim comes from “hacked or stolen” emails.
It would be difficult for UEFA to defend a case based on materials which were illegally obtained, although the mystery man – known only as “John” - at the heart of Football Leaks says he has not hacked anyone.
At the very least, it would be hard for UEFA to base a case on the Football Leaks information, as long as the website refuses to reveal its sources.
Colin Savage is Prestwich Blue on BM.
Do yourself a favour and read his whole piece on BM.
Every blue should.
It’s the most comprehensive explanation I’ve read on the history of this debacle.
There are a couple of excellent threads over there on the subject with very knowledgeable people breaking things down to facts we should all be armed with b