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MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 25, 2023: Manchester City's manager Josep 'Pep' Guardiola speaks with Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp after the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Premier League set date for charges against Man City – “that is progressing”

A date has been set for an independent commission to hear Premier League financial charges against Manchester City, the league’s chief executive Richard Masters has told MPs.

Masters did not reveal the date but said the case was “progressing”, as he insisted that all top-flight clubs were being treated equally under the league’s rules.

Everton face the prospect of two points deductions for breaches of the Premier League’s profitability and sustainability rules (PSR) before any conclusion is reached in the Manchester City case, even though charges were laid in the City case in February last year.

Nottingham Forest also face a sanction after they were referred to an independent commission in relation to PSR on Monday along with Everton. A member of the Toffees’ fan advisory board, Julie Clarke, was sat directly behind Masters during the hearing of the Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) committee on Tuesday morning wearing an Everton shirt.

Masters was asked by MPs whether he could understand fans’ frustrations on the differing timescales of these financial cases and said: “They are very different charges, that’s all I would say.

“If any club, whether the current champions or otherwise, had been found in breach of the spending rules for year 23, they would be in exactly the same position as Everton or Nottingham Forest, but the volume and character of the charges laid before Manchester City – which I obviously cannot talk about – are being heard in a completely different environment.

“There is a date set for that proceeding, unfortunately I can’t tell you when that is, but that is progressing.”

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 25, 2023: Manchester City's manager Josep 'Pep' Guardiola (L) and Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp speak after the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

City were charged with more than 100 rule breaches last year following an investigation which the Premier League said began in December 2018.

Manchester City declined to comment following Masters’ remarks, but at the time the charges were laid the club said they welcomed 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,” City said.

The Premier League declined to comment on whether the commission will consider it this year but it is understood that is the case. It is not known how many days the commission has set aside for the proceedings. The commission sets the timeline for the process in this case.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 12, 2023: Everton's Abdoulaye Doucouré looks dejected after missing a chance during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Fulham FC at Goodison Park. Fulham won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Everton are already appealing against a 10-point deduction imposed by an independent commission in November over an earlier PSR breach, and said on Monday the fact they now had to defend themselves against a new complaint while the appeal process was ongoing demonstrated a “clear deficiency” in the league’s rules.

Asked about those rules, Masters told the committee: “We take our rulebook very seriously. It’s a handshake between all 20 clubs. All clubs look each other in the eyes and say ‘we will comply with these rules’ and they expect the (Premier League) board – if clubs don’t comply with those rules – to take action.

“We have to balance that Everton are a very important member of the Premier League, an ever-present, and we also have to think about the other 19 clubs and their fan bases.

“I don’t think it’s messy. It’s a very solemn duty – nobody likes enforcing the financial rules. These rules were brought in in 2013-14 with a specific purpose of ensuring that unsustainable spending couldn’t go too far.”

Masters said new rules were under consideration to bring the Premier League into line with UEFA’s financial sustainability regulations. The European governing body is phasing in a system where clubs must not have squad costs higher than 70 per cent of revenue.

Masters said the existing PSR would be in place for at least this season and next, however.

He also said his organisation was “still investigating” Chelsea after the club’s new leadership self-reported information concerning the Blues’ financial conduct under former owner Roman Abramovich.

File photo dated 19-12-2015 of Roman Abramovich, who is attempting to broker peace between Russia and Ukraine, the Chelsea ownerís spokesperson has confirmed. Issue date: Monday February 28, 2022.

Masters was also asked when the league would ratify the takeover of Everton by American investment firm 777 Partners.

“As soon as we have completed the process and unfortunately some processes take a matter of weeks. Some, if we haven’t had satisfactory answers to the questions we have asked, take a lot longer,” he said.

Asked how long this one would take, Masters replied: “It’s already been running for a number of weeks. So it’s going to take longer. How much longer I don’t know.”

When asked if he meant days, weeks or months, Masters said: “Hopefully weeks.”