Financial Fair Play slams Manchester City with huge fine, squad reduction

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Fresh off Manchester City’s triumphant Premier League season, they will be hard pressed to repeat thanks to the new Financial Fair Play rules.

Along with Paris Saint-Germain, Zenit St. Petersburg, Galatasaray, Anzhi Makhachkala, Rubin Kazan, Trabzonspor, Bursaspor, and PFC Levski Sofia, City has been found to have breached FFP regulations and will be accordingly punished.

According to the documented release by UEFA, Manchester City has agreed to:

  • Pay a fine of $82.19 million
  • Cap its Champions League roster at 21 players (down from 25), 8 of which must be “homegrown”
  • Cap its wages at their current level outside of performance bonuses
  • A break-even financial deficit for the next two fiscal years
  • Have its expenditure allowance reduced below the level of other clubs (essentially a probationary period).

Read the full UEFA report here.

The investigation found that Manchester City’s net losses of $207 million was bankrolled entirely by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, the club’s owner. The bankroll was covered up in sponsorships but they were too closely tied to Sheikh Mansour for UEFA’s liking.

Manchester City has released a statement claiming they have “engaged with UEFA in its introduction of the Financial Fair Play Regulations in good faith and without prejudice and in a transparent and collaborative manner.”

Essentially, they disagree with the findings of the FFP investigation, citing the facts that they’ve been “operating with no debt” and “realizing its football and commercial opportunities whilst continuing unprecedented investments in both youth development and the local community.”

However, they admit that while they would like to challenge the findings, they have decided not to for “practical realities.”  That’s because they can’t – the ruling has no appeal.

Therefore, the club confirms that the eventual punishments laid down were a “compromise agreement.” Most clubs were given the opportunity to settle with UEFA.

City claims that they already used a 21-player roster this past season for the Champions League, however the team’s official UEFA roster lists 24 players as part of their “A” list.

The punishments given to Manchester City were exactly the same as those handed down to Paris Saint-Germain, who responded with a club statement of their own.  You can view all UEFA documents pertaining to these sanctions here.

Interestingly enough, heavy spenders Monaco were not included in the FFP sanctions and appear to be safe.

Manchester City – Newcastle preview: How to watch, start time, stream, odds, prediction

Manchester City - Newcastle preview
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Manchester City – Newcastle preview: Man City looks to take another step toward sealing second place on the table as plucky Newcastle United visits the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday (Watch live at 1 pm ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com)

The nine losses Pep Guardiola’s overseen this season are the most in a single league season over his celebrated career, but City’s still second and the advanced stats say they’re playing the best football in the league.

STREAM MANCHESTER CITY – NEWCASTLE LIVE

It’s a funny game, and the same wisdom can be applied to Steve Bruce’s strong season at Newcastle. The well-traveled and well-liked boss has led the Magpies to a better season that Rafa Benitez did in 2018-19, though it’s pivotal to note that Bruce has been blessed with much better transfer outlay.


Team news

Sergio Aguero remains out for Man City after undergoing knee surgery, while Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker face late fitness tests.

Newcastle star Allan Saint-Maximin was dinged up in a weekend draw with West Ham but could play, while Florian Lejeune, Ciaran Clark, Isaac Hayden, and Sean Longstaff are unlikely to play.


What they’re saying

Man City’s Pep Guardiola on bouncing back from Southampton: “Of course we have confidence in the players and we are the same guys. We’ve done it in previous seasons. The way we played is similar, but we have to win the games. Next season will be next season. We will try to score more goals and avoid conceding chances. The control is there, the way we play is there. We need to try to increase these kind of things.”

Magpies boss Steve Bruce on leading scorer Jonjo Shelvey“It becomes easy, the game of football, like a game of golf, to him. He’s blessed with a natural ability. He can see a pass that other people can’t. He can deliver a pass. He can score a goal. Physically and mentally, he’s bought into everything we’ve tried to put over to him and fair play to him. At the minute, he’s reaping the benefits of how good he looks, and of course he’s playing at the top of his game, which is always good to see because he has been outstanding in the last few games.”


Odds and ends (Full matchweek odds)

DraftKings’ heads will explode if Newcastle gets this one done, +2000 being attached to the Magpies as opposed to Man City’s -835.

Newcastle and Man City have been twice already this season, both at St. James’ Park. The Magpies drew City 2-2 in league play via Jonjo Shelvey’s late goal before losing 2-0 to City in an FA Cup quarterfinal in late June.


Prediction

Gabriel Jesus is due for a goal, presuming he starts again. The 23-year-old has been sitting on 10 PL goals since February 22, and we suspect he finds a way past Martin Dubravka in a 3-0 win.


How to watch Man City – Newcastle United stream, start time

Kickoff: 1 pm ET Wednesday
TV Channel: NBCSN
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

Serie A: Top 2 both lose as Lazio player bites opponent (video)

Lazio player bites opponent
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Juventus had a chance to effectively put another scudetto race to bed after chasers Lazio lost to relegation-threatened Lecce on Tuesday, a Lazio player biting an opponent to get a late red card to add insult to injury.

But Juve blew a 2-0 second-half lead at AC Milan in remarkable fashion, conceding four times at the San Siro.

[ MORE: Premier League summer schedule ]

Juve leads Lazio by seven points with seven matches to play for both teams and they meet July 20 in Turin. Inter Milan is third with 64 points and Atalanta fourth with 63, both with a match-in-hand on the top two.


Lecce 2-1 Lazio

The latest manner in which Lazio threw away a chance to dethrone Juventus definitely leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Lazio lost Tuesday for the third time in five post-coronavirus pause outings, seeing a defender sent off for a biting incident in a 2-1 loss to previously-bottom three Lecce.

Patric did not like Giulio Donati’s arms boxing him out of a set piece situation, and clearly latches onto the Lecce man’s left arm.

It was already 2-1 when the red card was shown, Lazio frustrated when Felipe Caicedo’s early goal was countered by goals from Khouma Babacar and Fabio Lucioni.

AC Milan 4-2 Juventus

Milan pulls into fifth in the race for a Europa League place that will leave either Roma, Napoli, or Tuesday’s victors out of Europe.

It was nil-nil at halftime when the game really found its footing.

Adrien Rabiot scored a stunner just after the break and Juan Cuadrado cued up Cristiano Ronaldo for an insurance goal six minutes later.

Ronaldo’s 26th of the season puts him three back of league leader Ciro Immobile of Lazio.

Milan took one back through Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the 62nd, and the Swede then set up Franck Kessie for an equalizer before departing in the 67th minute.

Rafael Leao scored right after restart, stunning Juventus. Giacomo Bonaventura, who’d come on for Ibrahimovic, then set up Ante Rebic for the fourth goal of the match.

The Rabiot goal, though…

Aubameyang, Vardy score in Arsenal-Leicester draw

Arsenal - Leicester City recap
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Premier League Golden Boot leaders Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Jamie Vardy both scored as 10-man Arsenal held on to draw Leicester City 1-1 at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Premier League summer schedule ]

Eddie Nketiah was sent off with 15 minutes to play for Arsenal, giving the Foxes a chance to fight back after Aubameyang scored his 20th of the PL season.

Vardy poked home his 22nd with five minutes to play, giving Leicester 59 points and keeping them a point back of third-place Chelsea.

The Foxes have a four-point lead on fifth-place Manchester United and are six clear of Wolves, but have played one more match than both.


Three things we learned

1. Aubameyang, Vardy pace league: Aubameyang’s first-half goal was his 20th of the season and moved him within one Jamie Vardy’s Premier League lead only to see the Leicester City hit man regain his 2-goal advantage late.

For those wondering the ways home for both players, Arsenal finishes with Spurs, Liverpool, Aston Villa, and Watford. Leicester will finish the season with Bournemouth, Sheffield United, Tottenham, and Manchester United. It’s going to be tight.

2. Schmeichel remains underpraised: Remember those years ago when Leicester made its big charge and it was simply a fun note that its goalkeeper was the son of Premier League royalty? Well, Kasper might not have the EURO title or collection of PL crowns his father amassed, but he’s an incredible goalkeeper. The Dane made five stops before halftime and another great move to thwart a David Luiz free kick after the break.

Leicester can count its lucky stars he’s been there to bail them out a few times this season. His 12 clean sheets are one off the Golden Glove race and his 86 saves tops amongst top four contenders.

3. Vardy equalizer defies offside: VAR did the right thing when it comes to super fine margins. Vardy wasn’t onside when he started his run to meet the late equalizer, but he was a shade off if Ayoze Perez’s flailing boot got a piece of the ball. The cameras couldn’t tell for sure, and the call rightly stood.

Man of the Match

Schmeichel — Arsenal’s subbing all of its stars at the hour mark if the Dane doesn’t stand on his head in the first half.


Arsenal – Leicester City recap

Emiliano Martinez was busy early and made no better play than his leg save on a Kelechi Iheanacho shot that came through a sea of bodies and Shkrodan Mustafi’s legs.

The Gunners went ahead when Dani Ceballos played an exquisite long pass to Bukayo Saka behind the line, the teenager sweeping across for Aubameyang to finish. The term “inch-perfect” comes to mind.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Schmeichel made a tremendous point-blank save on Alexandre Lacazette to keep it 1-0 before impressing with another stop on Hector Bellerin within 30 seconds.

Both teams had goals ruled offside by the linesman, Lacazette’s 69th minute hit one that could’ve put the rain-drenched tie to bed.

The Gunners looked prepared to outduel Leicester but handed a chance back to the Foxes when Eddie Nketiah’s dangerous high challenge was reviewed by VAR.

Vardy was offside when he fired into the outside of the net in the 80th minute but he got his goal four minutes later when he charged over a sliding Shkrodan Mustafi to score his 22nd of the season.

Former Nottingham Forest, Xavier U player mourned before kickoff

Nottingham Forest player mourned
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Former Nottingham Forest player and Xavier University graduate Derrick Otim is being mourned on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean after reportedly drowning this weekend in South Carolina.

The Championship side honored Otim with a moment of silence as both Fulham and Forest gathered around the center circle before Forest’s 1-0 loss to Fulham on Tuesday.

Otim scored seven times with nine assists in 70 college games, twice earning All-Big East honors. He also played for current NISA side Detroit City during its time in the NPSL.

It’s clear that Otim’s positive attitude and upbeat personality made huge impacts on both his college teammates and Forest peers.

Here is Otim’s college teammate Sam Sergi, now with USL side New Mexico United, from Cincinnati.com:

“Over the last 24 hours of me having some time to process this, the one thing that keeps coming into my heart is, one, how tragic it is that he passed and the mourning and the grief so many people that he touched are facing, but also the joy that we have in our hearts to have had those moments with him,” said Sergi, a teammate and friend of Otim’s for four years at Xavier. “As terrible as this is, how grateful are we to have had an experience with another human being that has that kind of an impact on your life.

Here’s a selection of memories shared of Otim following his passing.