Manchester United icon Gary Neville has shared his sympathy with Manchester City after they were charged with 115 breaches of the Premier League’s financial rules. The reigning champions were rocked by the bombshell developments that emerged following a four-year investigation into the inner workings of the club between 2009 and 2018 following the Abu Dhabi United Group’s takeover at the Etihad Stadium in 2008.
Nonetheless, Neville has claimed he does not agree with Financial Fair Play regulations as he believes the system is flawed – indicating that football needs to find a better way of regulating finances.
Speaking on The Overlap Live Fan Debate, Neville declared: “On the financial side, I do have some sympathy for Manchester City. If you look at what Jack Walker did in 1992, 1993, 1994, that was financial doping but it was deemed to be something completely different because he was a local businessman who pumped money into his club.
“I’m not a fan of the Financial Fair Play Regulations. It means you’ll always have the same clubs at the very top, because their revenues are higher and you’ll always have the lower clubs lower down, because they can’t compete with the revenue.
“We do need sustainability and cost controls in football, and this is one of the biggest decisions in the next 12 to 18 months.”
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City have since hired top lawyer Lord Pannick to defend them throughout a potential appeal as they seek to plead their innocence.
Any process to clear their name could yet take years to play out before potential punishments are realised, although City strongly deny any wrongdoing despite also being charged with failure to comply with aspects of the investigation.
Pannick, who advised Boris Johnson throughout the Partygate inquiry ordeal, reportedly charges around £5,000 an hour for his services.
Unfortunately for City, they will not be able to take their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport as their sanctions were issued by the Premier League.
Back in 2020, City won their previous appeal to the CAS over alleged financial fair play violations which would have prevented them from competing in the Champions League.
Industry sources suggest City are most likely to be faced with a points deduction if proven guilty, although there are also fears that they could be faced with the threat of expulsion from the Premier League.
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Former City captain Vincent Kompany, who played for the club during the period of their alleged wrongdoing, refused to be drawn on the charges when quizzed on his former club’s alleged breaches of Premier League rules.
“I look at it and sometimes roll my eyes a little bit,” Kompany said.
“No doubt there’s a lot of righteousness in the world to come and tell you what you’ve done wrong, and then if everybody looks at themselves, I think the football industry in general is not one that can afford to point the finger too many times.
“I think all of you will have a little bit of a smile on your face to know what the football industry is about. I’m very sceptical when people start pointing fingers.
“Do the best for yourself and let’s try and improve all the time but I’m a little bit sceptical when the fingers get pointed easily.”
City, meanwhile, say they hope to put the matter firmly to rest during the independent commission’s formal review of proceedings.
A club statement read: “Manchester City FC is surprised by the issuing of these alleged breaches of the Premier League Rules, particularly given the extensive engagement and vast amount of detailed materials that the EPL has been provided with.
“The Club welcomes the review of this matter by an independent Commission, to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence that exists in support of its position.
“As such we look forward to this matter being put to rest once and for all.”