When UEFA’s General Secretary, Gianni Infantino claimed: “We always said we want investors in football, but good investors...” it made many wonder what European football’s governing body defined as ‘good’?
The bald-headed Infantino, a familiar figure at the laborious and protracted Champions League draws every August, made the bizarre proclamation as UEFA once again oozed hypocrisy, using their Financial Fair Play (FFP) to discriminate against Manchester City.
Among the dictionary definitions of ‘good’ is the following; financially sound, valid, well-behaved, giving pleasure, morally excellent, beneficial, kindly, reliable.
So, what part of this laudable collection of adjectives would the 45-year old, Swiss born, UEFA bureaucrat say does not apply to Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi based owner?
Sheikh Mansour has invested well over a billion pounds in catapulting downtrodden City to the pinnacle of the English game, twice in the past four seasons.
In doing so he has ploughed £200m into the creation of the City Football Academy – unquestionably the finest facility of its kind anywhere in the world, and one that also delivers major social and community benefits to the City of Manchester.
The regeneration of a previously ailing area of Manchester, the provision of a fertile economic environment for thousands of new jobs and the forging of an altruistic, commercially viable and transparent, relationship with Manchester City Council, cannot be underestimated or overstated.
And yet, Infantino, his boss UEFA President Michel Platini and the rest of his cronies, continue to seek to penalise Manchester City FC at every opportunity.
How it must have stuck in UEFA’s craw to have to announce the lifting of the FFP sanctions on City; the uncapping of the transfer budget, unfreezing of player’s wages and the reinstatement of City’s Champions League squad to a full complement of 25 players, up from 21.
Having already pinched £16.3m from City – the initial slice of a hefty £49m fine imposed last summer – UEFA were unable to grab another ‘pound of Etihad flesh’, because City had conformed to the FFP sanctions in 2014/15.
UEFA are still reluctant to concede ground to City, stating: “Manchester City remain under strict controls and has still to meet break-even targets and, is therefore subject to some limitations in 2016.”
Bad news for UEFA and the cosy cartel of the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manure, the traditionally influential clubs in Europe, City will do more than break-even in the next set of accounts.
They’ll be in profit...just as they would have been last season, had it not been the for the FFP fine – oh, the cruel irony!
With the legality of FFP coming under increasing scrutiny and attack from Belgian lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont, UEFA are furiously back-peddling.
Napoleon Platini and UEFA’s infantile spite towards City is heading to a day of reckoning in the European Court of Justice...and they know they’re going to come a cropper.
Why else would the nefarious nincompoops from Nyon be watering down their FFP criteria?
Dupont, who is representing Manchester City Supporters Club, Paris St Germain and an Italian football agent, has already won the first round in the courtroom – establishing that UEFA has a case to answer.
He sees UEFA’s new move to dilute the FFP rules as further proof that the whole process is illegal.
Dupont says it is even more damning and discriminatory that City are excluded from the new relaxed regulations, and remain subject to the original ‘excessive’ FFP punishments.
UEFA’s official announcement last Friday, stating City are effectively free of last summer’s fiscal constraints (a net spend of £49m), could explain Txiki Begiristain’s lack of action, thus far, in this transfer window.
That looks set to change on a grand scale with major targets Paul Pogba, Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling all firmly in the crosshairs of City’s Director of Football.
Doubtless the anti-City media will soon be whinging how Sheikh Mansour’s ‘plaything’ is once again ‘ruining football’ – that’ll be music to the ears of the Etihad masses.
Pogba’s signing would see the British transfer record smashed and, along with the signings of KDB and Sterling, there won’t be much change from £150m. Lovely!
It looks a nigh-on certainty that an £8m-£10m outlay will see the imminent arrival of Aston Villa skipper Fabian Delph, but 18-year old Turkish hot-shot Enes Unal is first in, at an even more modest £2m from Bursaspor.
Rumour has it that City are negotiating with Monaco for their highly rated 21-year old Brazilian right back, Fabinho, with a fee of £12m-£15m in the equation.
Thus far, City’s transfer activities have been restricted to outgoings with Frank Lampard, James Milner, Dedryk Boyata, Karim Rekik and John Guidetti all departing for a total of just in excess of £5m.
City Chairman, Khaldoon Al Mubarak, in his now annual address via the City website, spoke of some familiar names who had served City well, moving on to new challenges.
With a need to balance the squad, as well as some of the finances, it won’t come as surprise if Balkan boys, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic head out to Roma and Inter Milan anytime soon.
Is Samir Nasri staying put, will Bacary Sagna and Fernando be deemed surplus to requirements – who knows what will happen before 1st September?
One thing’s for sure, City fans are set for a ‘good’ July now that Txiki is finally poised to fulfil the fundamental elements of his job description and deliver ‘high quality’ signings.
By David Walker