Manchester City have been given a date for hearing with an independent panel, but Liverpool know there is no outcome that would be completely fair.
Everton’s 10-point deduction for violating the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules shook the world of soccer, and has resulted to huge protests from the Toffees’ supporters as the club put together an appeal.
Liverpool and the rest of the top flight, as well as clubs beyond English shores, will be watching carefully; some relegated clubs could even mount a legal case for compensation.
Despite all of that, the biggest talking point, really — not least because Everton should comfortably avoid relegation this season even if it is unsuccessful in overturning or reducing that 10-point penalty — is what happens to Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola’s side stand accused of 115 times as many charges as Everton, hence the reason the process is taking much longer.
Man City insist they’re completely innocent but either them or the Premier League will emerge looking bad. Either Manchester City will be found to have done wrong, or the league’s competence for leveling so many accusations at one of its clubs will be questioned if it cannot then stand those up.
Either way, we now have a date as to when an outcome could finally arrive. According to the Daily Mail, City and the Premier League have tentatively agreed to go to an independent panel in late Autumn next year, with the verdict expected in the summer of 2025.
As it stands, the most likely punishment is a points deduction for Manchester City rather than retrospective stripping of titles, though given the scale of the charges, nothing is off the table. But with 115 charges to Everton’s one, a steep precedent has now been set.
If Manchester City are found guilty, though, whatever the punishment, it will not be enough. The titles, even in the event of them being stripped, have already been celebrated.
Liverpool, for instance, have already mourned the manner in which it was beaten to the league title in 2014, part of the period for which Manchester City are under investigation. They used missing out by a point in 2019 for motivation to go one better 12 months later. Either way, history cannot be rewritten.
The reality is that even if Liverpool were awarded that league triumph, it would hardly feel like a win for the Reds. Technically, Steven Gerrard would have won the league — but really, it would not feel any different.
In the case of a points deduction, the precedent now set would mean it would need to be a huge one. If you get 10 points for one misdemeanor, Manchester City could be in for many times that amount. But even that would not be able to put right the wrongdoing of the past.
For the potential offender, titles could be tainted, ironically given an asterisk that would be meaningful, unlike the one that many were so keen to add to Liverpool’s victory in 2020.
But for the Reds, Arsenal, Manchester United and others who have missed out on leagues or spots in the Champions League, it would be too little, too late.
Whatever the eventual outcome in the Manchester City case — and the one that Chelsea are involved in as well — the one thing that needs to happen in the future is that it doesn’t come to this again.
Finances and that side of the game need to be checked as you go along, not years later — otherwise, there is simply no punishment that is 100 per cent befitting and fair.