Man City reach for the title as Uefa clips their wings

Manchester City players

Victory tonight would make the title theirs to lose, but Uefa will likely penalise the club over spending

BY Bill Mann LAST UPDATED AT 13:51 ON Wed 7 May 2014

MANCHESTER CITY can take a significant step towards the Premier League title this evening when they host Aston Villa at the Etihad. Victory for the Sky Blues will move them two points clear of Liverpool at the top of the Premier League and leave them requiring just a point in their final match of the season – at home to West Ham on Sunday – to  clinch their second crown in three seasons.

That’s the good news for City. The bad news came yesterday with the news that they and Paris Saint-Germain are facing swingeing punishments from Uefa after breaking their Financial Fair play [FFP] rules.

The BBC reports that the two big-spenders face fines of nearly £50m, restrictions on the size of their Champions League squads and limits to their spending on new players.

According to the BBC, City and PSG are among nine clubs currently under investigation by Uefa for breaching FFP regulations. While the size of the fine wouldn’t be a problem for the pair – whose owners are based in the Middle East – it’s the prospect of penalties that could impair their on-field performance that have set alarm bells ringing in Manchester.

Under FFP rules a club’s losses must not exceed £37m over the previous two seasons, but City have posted total losses of nearly £150m in 2012 and 2013.

The BBC says that Uefa will reduce the size of the errant clubs’ Champions League squads from 25 to 21 players, while also implementing a wage cap “to ensure there is no rise on this season's squad wage bill for the Champions League”.

It’s reported that PSG have been in lengthy talks with officials from Uefa's Club Financial Control Board (CFCB) with the French club ready to accept a reduction in squad size to 21 as well as a limit on their total wage bill.

In addition the BBC says that PSG “will also have part of their Champions League payments and prize money withheld by Uefa for the next three seasons”, believed to total £49.5m.

Initially PSG tried to argue that income tax levels in France put them at a disadvantage to most other European clubs – the club claimed that over three years they will pay £163.9m more in wages than a German rival because of taxes – but this was rejected by Uefa.

While PSG look set to take their punishment on the chin, the Times report that City are “deeply unhappy” with FFP and “plan to contest any sanction that they regard as excessive”.

Discussions with the CFCB are ongoing but an agreement between the parties must be reached before Friday. If City still refuse to accept their punishment they can appeal to CFCB’s adjudicatory panel, though they have the power to impose an even heavier penalty. City’s last hope would be to take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

City manager Manuel Pellegrini was in no mood to tackle the subject when asked about it on Tuesday. "When it is official news of Uefa we can analyse what happens with the team,” he told reporters. “In this moment we don't know what happens." · 

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