Will Premier League Titles Be Stripped from Man City and Handed to Liverpool?

- - Seasons

Red Plus with Blue MinusAlthough the two clubs have a famous rivalry, you can imagine that plenty of Liverpool FC fans have sympathy with their Merseyside foe Everton.

The Toffees have been hit with a ten-point deduction over financial irregularities at the club, which has seen their good start to the 2023/24 season effectively ruled null and void as the sanction takes them back into the relegation zone.

It’s possible that Everton will survive the drop anyway, but there’s is a punishment that reeks of double standards considering the madcap transfer spending of the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea over the years.

The MP for West Derby, Ian Byrne, filed an Early Day Motion over the ‘grossly unfair’ deduction, while the Mayor of Liverpool, Steve Rotheram, has revealed that he will be supporting the club’s right to appeal to the Premier League’s committee.

There will be plenty of top-flight clubs watching developments with interest; notably Manchester City and Chelsea, who seem as likely as anyone to have breached spending rules in recent years.

City, of course, already have 115 FFP charges hanging over their heads, although the skill of their legal team has been enough to delay any sanctions they might face – remember, Everton only had one charge and were still handed the stiffest penalty in Premier League history.

So what fate will, or at least could, City face? Points deductions….or worse still?

Will Man City Be Deducted Points?

The investigation into Manchester City’s alleged wrongdoings is ongoing.

But by simple mathematics, if one breach of FFP rules costs you ten points, how many does 115 breaches get?

Of course, the investigation would first have to establish that City have outspend the amount they should have, before determining how gross any breach has been.

In theory, if City’s ‘crime’ is on a par with Everton’s then they should be deducted ten points – that would be excellent news for Liverpool’s 2023/24 Premier League title bid.

Pos. Team P W D L Points
1st Man City 12 9 1 2 28
2nd Liverpool 12 8 3 1 27

What’s interesting in this case is that City wouldn’t be able to block any sanctions imposed upon them by the Premier League by turning to their old chums at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), who helped them get away with previous charges levied by UEFA.

And when you look at how other countries have handled cases of significant foul play, such as Serie A, in the end City might, in the grand scheme of things, be pretty chuffed to only be deducted ten points if that is indeed the punishment laid down.

Will Man City Be Relegated?

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The actual nature of Man City’s FFP breaches will of course dictate the punishment facing them, but even if only half of those 115 alleged misdoings are held up by the investigation, the points deduction imposed could be catastrophic – certainly enough to relegate City no matter how many points they actually win on the pitch this term.

And even without the points deduction, the Premier League and their independent commission might look at how the Italian FA and Serie A handled the Calciopoli scandal of the 2000s.

All manner of clubs were embroiled in a legal case that saw them accused of trying to instigate match fixing by pressuring referees into favouring them – Juventus held to be the most guilty of them all.

So serious were these infringements that Italian football bosses decided to automatically relegate Juventus to Serie B for the 2006/07 season – despite the fact they had been crowned Serie A champions just months later.

It was a seismic moment in world football, not just Italy. Crucially, it provides precedence for other governing bodies seeking appropriate punishments for serious misdemeanours in the beautiful game.

Will Man City Be Stripped of Their Titles?

It’s important to note that the breaches that City have been accused of took place between 2009 and 2018 – so it would be up to the Premier League how far back they want to go with any punitive measures handed out retrospectively.

There’s not a great deal of precedence in this field, particularly with clubs being stripped of silverware further down the line, Juventus are one high-profile instance of titles being stripped off them – the 2004/05 Serie A season was declared to have no champion after Juve and runners-up AC Milan were embroiled in that corruption scandal, while in 2005/06 Inter Milan were declared league winners after Juve, in first place, were again undone by the Calciopoli investigation.

The Premier League doesn’t have to follow Serie A’s lead, of course, however this sort of legal precedence can be useful when determining punishments that would be groundbreaking and shocking.

If the EPL does decide to uphold a similar verdict to Italian chiefs, Liverpool could – in theory – be declared champions of the 2013/14 season and 2018/19, if City’s alleged rule breaches crossed over into that later campaign as well.

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