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Manchester City considers challenging UEFA’s Financial Fair Play penalty

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Time is running out for teams clubs in violation of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) to accept their settlement offers – the suggested punishment the organization’s Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) has made to each of the nine offenders. Without that agreement, the teams’ cases go to a panel of judges (Adjudicatory Chamber), where a group of financial experts can impose more severe punishments.

Paris Saint-Germain, along with seven other clubs outside Europe’s big four leagues (England, Germany, Italy, Spain) appear ready to accept their punishments, but whereas teams from smaller league face sanction in proportion to their relatively minor offenses, PSG and City will serve as examples for the rest of Europe. According to reports, the clubs’ punishments include an $83.6 million fine (payable over three years), a Champions League roster reduction from 25 to 21 players, and a salary cap tying the roster’s wages to their current levels.

For Manchester City, a club that contends it is in compliance with FFP, the punishment’s too much. According to tonight’s reporting from The Guardian, the club is “furious” at being lumped in with the Parisians.

There is a feeling in Abu Dhabi and the Etihad that Manchester City have been unfairly targeted but sources close to the Uefa process insist the size of the punishment fits the crime. Under the rules … clubs are allowed losses of €45m over the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons.

Although Manchester City lost £153m over the two seasons in question, club insiders have repeatedly insisted that the ability to write off the value of contracts signed before 2010 when the rules were unveiled, as well as write down investments in youth development and infrastructure, allowed them to narrowly comply.

UEFA obviously disagrees, with the some of the club’s overvalued partner deals appearantly failing to pass CFCB scrutiny:

Uefa’s accountants are believed to have concluded that Manchester City’s £350m 10-year deal with Abu Dhabi’s national airline Etihad and a series of licensing deals have been significantly overvalued.

In light of such agreements, UEFA is ready to hand down its punishment, one that’s complicated by Champions League’s homegrown player rule. The competition sets aside eight spots on each roster for “home grown” players. If City’s limit is reduced to 21, only 13 players brought in from outside the club could be registered.

The Guardian goes into much more detail, including a paragraph on how New York City FC and City’s A-League team have become involved. We’ll get to that in our next post. For now, City is at least considering challenging the sanction. If the Adjudicatory Chamber doesn’t provide recourse, the club could take this to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.


Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

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Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.