It appears to be only a matter of time before FIFA announce a transfer ban on Manchester City.
Rumours abound that football’s ultra corrupt global governing body, is ready to fire the opening shots, in what appears to be a concerted campaign to damage the Abu Dhabi-owned Champions of England.
Whether there’s any substance for FIFA aggression, in relation to City breaching rules on youth player recruitment, remains to be seen. There’s little doubt City will fight their corner and challenge whatever punitive measures FIFA may seek to impose.
The seemingly imminent punishment, would come hot on the heels of Chelsea being handed a two-window transfer ban on similar charges. It prevents the Londoners from making any new signings until the summer of 2020.
Whereas the overwhelming majority of City supporters believe the various football authorities are desperate to ‘pin something’ on the club, City remain resolute that it has no case to answer.
FIFA, UEFA, the FA and the Premier League have yet to publicly show their hand and present detailed cases for the prosecution, but City have declared their intention to rebut all accusations and allegations, particularly those relating to UEFA’s, farcically entitled, Financial Fair Play rules.
At this stage it appears much of the so called ‘evidence’ stacking up against City, is derived from the Football Leaks ‘source’ – information that was gleefully plastered all over the pages of Der Spiegel by their ‘investigative’ reporters. I use the term in the loosest sense. It doesn’t take much by way of ‘investigative journalism’ to pore over and publish, emails and documents, allegedly hacked or stolen.
If any of the charges laid against City are as a result of, what the club refer to as, ‘...out-of-context materials purported to have been hacked or stolen from City Football Group and Manchester City personnel and associated people’, they shouldn’t see the light of day.
Fuelled by a culture of bribery and corruption, FIFA shouldn’t be in any kind of position to cast aspersions on others. Any moral stance is built wholly on foundations of sand - most recently of Qatari origin - amid claims of Qatar paying hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to host the 2022 World Cup.
What FIFA may claim to be damning proof, could well be inadmissible as evidence, outside of the parameters of FIFA’s kangaroo court proceedings. That said, City would not be the first club to face a potential transfer embargo.
The ban on Chelsea has been imposed with immediate effect. Roman Abramovich’s bunch are contesting not only the ban, but also its imposition, prior to any appeal proceedings. To any fair-minded outsider, Chelsea would surely have a case for their protestations.
In recent years, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have all had similar transfer exclusions, but with one glaring difference. Their bans were not applied until a lengthy appeals process had been exhausted.
This bought precious time for the La Liga trio to embark on extravagant spending sprees while their appeals were heard. The Spaniards made hay before their enforced transfer famine, stocked up on new talent and effectively nullified the impact of the bans. Even if Chelsea and City are eventually banned, they should receive the same treatment in the short term, as was accorded to their Spanish counterparts.
Undoubtedly it defeats the aim of the objective if teams are allowed to splash the cash prior to any ban, but that’s the precedent previously set by FIFA.
Regrettably, FIFA is a law unto itself and it will do what it wants, as per usual.
A suggested worse case scenario, could see City banned from purchasing new talent until June 2020, but if any club has a squad capable of flourishing in the face of such adversity, it has to be Manchester City. Pep said just that at his press conference ahead of today's FA Cup quarter final at Swansea.
City have just about broken even in their dealings over the last two transfer windows, with record-breaking, £60million Riyad Mahrez, being the only substantial signing. Yet here we are - the League Cup retained - top of the Premier League, through to a Champions League quarter final with Spurs, and, hopefully, anticipating an FA Cup semi final by tonight.
Guardiola wants to improve his squad this summer, namely at left back, defensive midfield, centre back and in the striking department, but this present group of players is more than capable of sustaining success, flicking the ‘V’s and telling the bent football bureaucrats to go forth and multiply.
Oleksandr Zinchenko has recently been a revelation at left back, albeit it would be quite spectacular if we were ever to see a fully fit and firing Benjamin Mendy, play to the peak of his abilities.
Phil Foden was always going to get increasing game time in his 19th year as he matures into City icon of the future. A transfer ban could see others such as Eric Garcia, Claudio Gomes, Cameron Humphreys and Philippe Sandler gain more first team experience.
Brazilian midfielder, Douglas Luiz, presently on loan for a second season with Girona in La Liga, might meet the work permit requirements and finally get the chance to work under Pep.
It shouldn’t be overlooked that even as last season’s Centurions and this season Quadruple chasers, City have had a cruel array of injuries to key players over prolonged periods. Despite numerous setbacks, they’ve continued to lead where others follow.
Signing up major players such as Raheem Sterling, Aymeric Laporte and Bernardo Silva on new long term contracts, is great news for City, even more so, if Leroy Sane and Ilkay Gundagon follow suit.
City's green-eyed rivals are desperate to prevent City from building a squad capable of dominating both English and European football for the foreseeable future.
They'll take whatever help they can get off the field from FIFA et al, but such are the talent levels already ensconced at the Etihad, Guardiola’s crusade for continuous improvement in 2019/20, need not be halted by a transfer ban.
If a ban happens it happens, but fast forward to June 2020, and just begin to imagine the size of Pep’s bulging, unspent, transfer budget.
City could stick FFP so far up UEFA’s fundament, not even Football Leaks’ finest would have a sniff of uncovering any sh*t on the best team in the land and all the world!
By David Walker
One transfer that will be completed this weekend will see Sinéad Walker sign up to become Mrs Nelson, when she marries Ireland-based City Blue, Fred Nelson, in County Meath. Fred is a big fan of Read But Never Red (there’s no accounting for taste) and he requested a wedding day ‘shout out’ for him and his lovely bride. Congratulations and our very best wishes you both!
Another cause for celebration this weekend sees a wonderful fella, Patrick Higgins turn 60 years of age. The Blue Leader of the Gloucester & Cheltenham Blues is one of the most passionate City fans on the planet and a bloody great bloke to boot. He too has a deep affiliation with the Emerald Isle, namely Guinness. Happy Birthday Pat.