Are City Cheating, Thus Killing the League We Love?

Prior to September 2008, Manchester City were regarded by others as a decent mid-table side fighting to reach the Europa League. But on the 1st of that month everything changed. Then owner Thaksin Shinawatra’s reign was in tatters as he failed to escape the continuing allegations of corruption in his home country of Thailand, thus with his £800m fortune frozen, City’s financial situation was in complete meltdown. Following later extradition requests from Thai courts to the British Government and the courts beginning to try them in absentia, it effectively ended any hopes of the money being released, further affing the possibility that Thaksin would come to breach Premier League rules on club ownership, which prevent owners convicted of corruption charges from retaining control of their club. The club did however attempt to stabilise it’s books by selling minority stakes for investment but failure prompted the announcement on 1st September 2008 that Manchester City were in talks to sell Thaksin’s stake to the Abu Dhabi United Group, and the deal was agreed later that day.

Even though this deal had been passed on transfer deadline day, City’s new owners immediately set the tone for their future ambitions by breaking the british transfer fee and signing, at the time, world superstar Robinho for £32.5 million from Real Madrid, whilst also placing bids for the likes of Dimitar Berbatov, Mario Gomez and David Villa. Robinho however, couldn’t help City climb higher up the table and the club finished tenth that season. But this only spurred the owners to take the club’s transfer spending to an unprecedented level as they outlaid over £100 million on Gareth Barry, Roque Santa Cruz, Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Adebayor, Carlos Tevez and Joleon Lescott. Roberto Mancini was installed in place of outgoing Mark Hughes in December of that year and the club improved  finishing fifth, thus narrowly missing out on Champions League qualification. But they needed more, and this time the Abu Dhabi United Group used their millions to lure Jerome Boateng, Yaya Toure, David Silva, Aleksandar Kolarov, Mario Balotelli and James Milner to Eastlands. This time out however, City won their first trophy since 1976 with the F.A. Cup and qualified for the Champions League, but a year later and with the addition of Samir Nasri and Sergio Aquero, City won the Premier League in dramatic fashion on a thrilling last day, which I’m sure needs no explaining. City fans could not believe their luck. From being a club destined for mediocrity only a few years ago, they are now the envy of every football fan, or are they?

The reason I’ve included such bulky lists of players and changes in the previous two paragraphs is to emphasise the ferocity through which their current owners have built this club up and up until success has come. The Premier League is regarded by most as the greatest league in the world. A league which prides itself on its unpredictability, but are City not putting two fingers up to this? Just look at those lists of superstars joining in one transfer window, providing evidence of the attitude that one can buy success. I would argue that this attitude is morally wrong, and unless every club has a billionaire owner behind it, the healthy competition that the league thrives on will be diminished and we’ll end with a league so predictable that fans become disinterested. I know that sounds ridiculously over the top and I’m sure many will point out the twists and turns of the previous campaign but my point remains in that if this attitude continues within the sport the league will become in itself tiered and jumps and falls between these will be solely based on financial backing or lack of. This route is hardly sustainable with the possibility of far eastern owners losing interest being forever greater, and many foreign investments viewing their club primarily as a business venture, means success can quickly become failure as investment suddenly disappears, is mishandled, or withheld stifling a club’s growth. The game will slowly, but inevitably move from an on field battle to instead a competition off it.

Thus in the midst of this, as football fans, are we worried? Have City simply ‘cheated’ in winning the league and in doing so are killing our game? Or is it a case of if they have the money they may as well use it, and success after all is the reward of hard investment? Should we not be grateful for the world superstars they have brought to the English stage? But they all play for one club? And most of all, are we envious? I’d also love to hear how City fans themselves feel in their current situation and do the perceptions of those outside of your club bother you? Or should we all just stop making excuses and get on with it!


37 thoughts on “Are City Cheating, Thus Killing the League We Love?

  1. What would any club have done with the money? Spent it! I wish they had taken over my club (Bolton), I’d have been overjoyed! All they have done is continued a trend that has been in effect for about two decades now. Besides it’s Chelsea and United’s turn to spend a lot again it seems, have City even bought anyone in the last year? They seemed to splash out loads to get a good team and have slowed down now.

  2. Yeah so we just have the big 4. Fuck the big 4 thats over. Like us or hate us being on top,you better get used to it.

  3. well said mike, best season ever! we city fans love it and its the rag red press which is staining us and apparently they all are up for sale (not) this artical is 10 years too late and should have been directed towards utd!. ctid champ1-6ns

  4. The final day of last season was the most dramatic of any EPL season. In fact it has been widely reported that the tension and excitement added 1 billion pounds to the TV rights deal which was negotiated the following week! If you take City out of the equation, put us back as a mid table club, United would have won another title months earlier and Arsenal would have finished a long distant second! Not so good for the competetion.
    All of the money that has been spent on players by city has been new untied cash that has been injected into football by the owners, Aresnal alone has had close to 100 milion pounds of it, all of this new money has stayed in football. How clubs choose to spend it is another question!
    The EPL is the most watched and supported competition on the planet, it has now been spiced up with City’s wealth, I could talk about the long term rejuvenation of a depressed area of Manchester or the international programmes the owners have instigated but this is a Football site so I will close off by saying as a City fan and a football fan how great it is to see players of the standing of Silva, YaYa, Mario and Aquero playing every week in the EPL! Hang on and enjoy the ride!

  5. How many times have United bought the league with Sky money? didn’t Chelsea and Blackburn buy the league before City. Even Arsenal spent millions doing it and what about the bank of england club Sunderland?

    Which club that won the league didn’t have more money to spend than Stockport, Oldham or Watford? How are such clubs expected to compete

    Wasn’t Chelsea on the verge of going bust before their Sugar Daddy bought them?

    Was United not saved from a winding up order in 1902 and almost went bankrupt in the 1930s and probably saved again by city letting them use their ground after the war?

    There have always been Sugar Daddys

    Is it not a good thing to see another club winning the prem title?

    Was the last season not the best ever with a fantastic ending.

    Have City paid millions to the tax man, to other clubs whose players they bought, spent millions in the surriounding are to the stadium improvng it

    As I see it there is no downside to what happened at City unless you are a United, Chelsea or Arsenal fan.

  6. The owners are here here long term so you will just have to deal with it. Us City fans are loving it.

  7. I’m a City fan and I remember when Chelsea got taken over and everyone was moaning I just thought if it happened to your club you would just love it so I didn’t really begrudge them. If everyone was honest they’d say the same thing.
    Same a any company if they have serious investors they will improve. The money we spend which always seems to include a premium, find it’s way to many clubs when we buy a player so I’m sure it helps others. Whatever fence you are sat on you will find words to defend yourself.
    Nobody mentions the work our owners have put in into the community or charitable work which has been just amazing. But nobody looks at that.

  8. How did you manage to get into university Luke? Talk about a biased view,have a look at what Man U have done over the years and others but it is City that YOU target.What is morally wrong with an owner investing in their company?argue away lets hear it?You do also understand with the FFP rules they had to invest a lot quickly or miss the boat?Did they “cheat”, are you on crack?
    “the possibility of far eastern owners losing interest becoming forever greater” what after just winning the title they are satisfied and move on?. What if they stay for 100+ years?
    Why don’t you do some research on the project that is “Manchester City” before you post your immature biased opinions?
    Clearly like many others you are simply jealous of City’s luck in having such a great owners.

  9. Luke, I rarely allow myself to get drawn into such debates as I find them frivolous. However, I simply felt the need to point out a few well known (and well used) facts to you. You are correct in stating that City have bought the league, but to label my club as ‘cheats’ is ridiculous. City have done only what other clubs in our position have previously and spent the wealth that’s on offer, whether this be by one mans generous pockets, or by being bankrolled by debt and living outside of your means. Blackburn did it in 1995 with the help of the late Jack Walker and won the league, Newcastle attempted it a few years later by paying what was then an astronomical £15m for Alan Shearer along with a record-breaking £30,000 pw wages, however they fell slightly short. As did Leeds at the turn of the century and they ended up paying the price for it a few years down the line. Manchester United have been distorting the transfer market for the last 20 years, as they have been heads and shoulders above the rest of the league in terms of buying power and revenue. They paid around £30m for Rooney, Ferdinand and Veron to name a few and yet this goes un-noticed in the media. Then there’s Chelsea, who were bought out nearly 10 years ago in circumstances similar to City and threw similar amounts of money around in the first few years in order to fast-track themselves to the top of the league. City have spent excessive amounts in order to achieve early success and having stepping stone players on stupidly high wages was generally the only way you can break into what was the big four. The point you’re missing is that it’s already the end of July and we still haven’t signed one player, so either we’re biding our time with one or two targets, or we’re thinking a hell of a lot more carefully before authorising any further expenditure, in order to comply with the new FFP rules. Also, it’s no secret that we’re developing a state of the art academy in order to rival or even exceed Barcelona’s La Mesia and who knows, in 10 to 15 years City could be a high achieving yet self sustaining club through this model.

    We’re not the ones who have distorted the transfer market. If anything, we now operate in our own market in that we are expected to pay 15-20% more for players than other clubs. To have limitless funds is not cheating, it’s merely good fortune. Whilst you’re looking into this aspect of football though, why not look over to the other side of my fair city at a club whose owners raised the funds for the purchase of the club by securing it against the stadium, who are known to take high dividend payments out of the club and who have floated the club on various stock exchanges just before financial figures are due to be released in order to shield the fans from the truth. Surely that’s more of a concern?

  10. Interesting thoughts… (from an envious supporter). You don’t appear to know much about the business culture of the Arabian Gulf states. The Abu Dhabi royal family have invested over 1 billion Pounds into Man City and the surrounding infrastructure…. They’re not going to walk away from that. Unpredictability?? Remind me of how the Top 4 finished in the Premier League for about 10 years running! Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal & Liverpool… the occasional ‘blip’ called Everton or Spurs. What are your thoughts on Paris St Germain??

  11. City are about 5th highest spenders in the past 18 months. Chelsea and psg how far outspent what city have. No team wins the premier or champs leaguewithout huge investment.

  12. 84 655 with 22 000 locked out man city v stoke still a record crowd for league match in england city won the league on several occations before our fantastic owners arrived. man city have a great history but sadly have never had the support of the english media so nothing new there then united clearly run the media and this has to be investigated for the good of the game because otherwise there will always be idiots like you who post on websites the truth is THE WHOLE WORLD CELEBRATED AS ONE WHEN AGUERO SCORED FOR THE CHAMPIONS

  13. You say “The Premier League is regarded by most as the greatest league in the world. A league which prides itself on its unpredictability, but are City not putting two fingers up to this?” Tell me, has anyone in their lifetime seen anything as unpredictable and as exciting as the last game, nay, last minute of the Prem Leaghue this year. That was better than any other year of the competition by a mile.

  14. When we’re talking competitiveness the big issue is ablity to pay high wages not transfer fees. If you analyse league position and wage structure you will see a much closer correlation between these and league position than between transfer spend. Until a few years ago, Utd outspent everyone in that area and it is no surprise they ended up, on the whole, with the best players – its professional football so why wouldn’t they want to play for the highest payers? By doing this they were gradually cornering the market on the best players and winning trophies. Chelsea realised the only way to compete with that was to go higher and they have done that and succeeded. Man City have done the same thing but, to succeed , have had to trump both Utd and Chelsea. This is not cheating any more than it was for Utd and Chelsea. What it is is competing according to the rules of the premier league where the most money and the best players end up with clubs that do this. I’d be all for a levle playing field with capped wages and capped spend but the same for all clubs in that league NOT percentage of turnover etc because that favours the rich and is anti-competitive.

  15. City broke the boring hegemony of the old Sky 4, making the Prem a much better place for everyone.

  16. I suggest you get your facts right.Man United have been buying the title for years.Did you know that they still hold the record for the most expensive goalkeeper in English history as well as the most expensive defender and the most expensive teenager.These fact and more are available in Stuart Brennans article for the Manchester Evening News.Just type in Google (Manchester city buying glory?now thats rich) and read for yourself an exellent honest article in a paper that is considersd by many to be biased red.

  17. This article ignores the total predictability of Man Utd (or occasionly Arsenal) winning the league for fifteen years up to around 2005, based on Man Utd’s money machine. That same money machine that has ruined many smaller clubs by attracting fans from their local club. When you wlk down a Southern High St, you see far more Man U shirts or hats than you do of the local club. Same story abroad. More success buys more success with the same top 4 teams in CL every year. Yawn. Chelsea broke that monopoly and I was glad to see a new kid on the block and a new set of happy fans. Now I’m glad to see a new set of happy fans, known for their loyalty to a club that’s been in the shadow of its gloating neighbours for thirty plus years. Good for them.

  18. C.H.A.M.P.I.O.N.S. in a time where Man U re have THE BIGGEST debt in world football & smell of poo hahahahaha.

  19. Now you know how every other team has felt outside the top 4 for the last 18 + years now you know how Everton felt when Utd paid 30M + more almost ten years ago, now youknow how Leeds fans felt when Rio was bought by Utd for 34 M And how does it Feel when Chelsea Buy Torres for 50M & Hazard 40M, Cheated ? That depends on who you support Mr Nightingale doesnt it, welcome to being an Also-ran, Money ruining football but only since City got it !

  20. I have never read such drivel. When City played Utd last season, the red players cost £250 million, the blue team cost £300 million. Fifty difference equals one player like Torres. United, Arsenal, Chelsea have been buying big players for the last 20 years which is why we had a dominant top three or four. No one could get close because they had the buying power.
    City have simply joined that elite of buying and the team plays at a different level, because their players are now top notch instead of mid to low table mediocrity.
    City haven’t killed the league, they have shaken it up, just look at Chelseas new team, that will take some beating. What is wrong is that one team like Utd can win so many league titles in a short space of time, it makes a mockery of the possibility of all teams in with a chance. In reality, only two or three teams in the last 20 years have had a chance. Lets stop the dominance and get more teams in the league like City, it surely has to be more interesting ?

  21. I thought that the ‘City is cheating’ argument had been proved wrong a long time ago. I echo all the above comments.

    Also,I would like to add that our owners have improved the fans matchday experience with the addition of a Fanzone, have many child-friendly policies, reasonable pricing, award-winning website showing (FREE) game highlights,tram link etc.

    ADUG are only doing at City what they have done for Abu Dhabi with F1.

  22. Before I defend myself, I must say this response hasn’t surprised me. I can even also say that I wanted City to win the league this year for the reasons a lot of you have stated, and the small fact that I’m a Liverpool fan. I used the term ‘cheated’ only because I overheard someone say it recently and thought it an interesting way to analyse it from.

    However, I feel that this approach has become the only way to gain success compared to the old fashioned hard graft way and that is what I begrudge. It’s easy to immediately point to others as an excuse and play the “well they did it so I can too” game, but in more general terms, i.e. including all the aforementioned clubs, don’t you agree that our league positions will be based purely on financial terms and doesn’t that bother you?

    And insults about how I got into University are pretty cheap, I must say.

  23. I will also like to add I have held these views for a long time, most notably when Chelsea were taken over by Mr Abramovich, just because I have taken my chance to air them now (I didn’t have the chance before) doesn’t mean I have something solely against City. Although it does focus on City, primarily because they are the latest club to join the gang, I’m wanting to ask a wider question which I feel is important.

  24. It’s easy to roll out names like David Silva, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero but none of these players were household names before they joined City and to put it into context, Yaya and Silva cost a lot less than Veron or Anderson and Aguero cost £1m less than Andy Carrol.

  25. Yes City paid a lot of money to buy players and get the Manager to win the Premier League. They also pay them well. Is this ‘cheating’? Only if your a supporter of a a club with a false sense of entitlement to be in the upper echelons of the Premier League.

    All City have done is exactly the same thing as every successful club has done in the past since Aston Villa in 1981. The Moores family fortune allowed Liverpool and Everton to outspend the rest in the 80′s, Arsenal spending at thee end of the 80′s and ever since, Leeds hasd a slurge at the start of the 90′s, then Blackburn, then Chelsea. While from the end of the 80′s united splurged a lot (and continued to do so every year) finally having a manger who could do something with their cash.

    Money talks. As football generates more money the more money will talk.

  26. Aha..A Micky Mouser. Liverpool have been bankrolled to a high degree back in their hayday. Is there any truth in the rumour that Bill Shankley had his book banned from the clubs library for admitting that they bought players so that other clubs could not get them and play them against the Dippers?

  27. What sort of gutless reply is that Luke? you attacked “City” with no thought to your argument.
    Can you explain your comments on the owners “losing interest becoming even greater”?
    How the heck would you know?How would they get their billion pounds back?why would they leave now that City are one of the top sides?
    Also what about investing in your own business?what are City to do with the cash?just look at it?Players get paid to play “professional football” the better ones get paid more.How do you get the better players to come to your club?
    And what of your beloved Liverpool,how much did they spend last season?
    Sorry Luke I think it is clear you are targeting City,why?
    Rather than using limp excuses,just say sorry and move on,you would have some respect then!

  28. Yeah. City are cheating.
    Yet another scouser who feels the world should bow down and kiss his feet.

  29. How many of you idiots are going to produce crass articles like this one…

    man united have been buying the league for years

    jack walker bought the league

    chelsea bought the league

    if you knew anything about footie you would know it’s happenedd since the very begining

    but man city are killing football…. jesus

  30. I’ve never bought into this ‘buying the title’ argument. Yes, Manchester City have spent grand sums in the past 3 or 4 seasons, but every club that has won the league in the modern era has had to spend money in order to be successful. Even if you back to the 1970s and the era of provincial clubs winning the league, Nottingham Forest spent a then world record fee on a goalkeeper when they signed Peter Shilton from Stoke the year before Forest won their league title. They then made the first £1 million transfer when they bought Trevor Francis months before they won their first of back-to-back European Cups. Just because this is chicken feed by modern standards, back in the late 1970s these were major fees spent on players with the intent of winning trophies, which had the desired effect. When Brian Clough was at Derby, he broke the bank signing Dave MacKay and he turned out to be instrumental when Derby won the league title a few years later.

    So, every club that has won the league in the last 40 years has had to spend money and make major signings for big fees for that time. The difference now is that teams like Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea have had a long held infrastructure in place meaning that other clubs ‘chasing the dream’ have to spend that much more if they are to stand a chance of competing. Manchester City’s ownership from Abu Dhabi has provided them with untold riches that has given them that platform to compete and they have now won 2 trophies in the past 2 seasons. The big test for them is the introduction of the Financial Fair Play regulations, given that they recorded major losses in the previous financial year. The regulations mean they have to get that situation resolved in order for them to be playing in Europe in the years ahead.

    They are not going to be alone though in being tested in that way and any club that has investment from an individual or a handful of individuals does expose itself to some risk if they don’t meet their targets or if the owner gets fed up. Just ask Leeds or Portsmouth supporters where both clubs ‘chased the dream’ and paid the price for throwing money around which they didn’t have secured.

    As a United fan, I would obviously rather City hadn’t won anything last season or the season before, but you have to look at it from the perspective that 15 years ago City were in League One playing local derbies against Macclesfield and Stockport, having had such luminaries as Jamie Pollock, Richard Edghill, Kevin Horlock, Jeff Whitley and Andy Morrison turn out for them around that time. If you said to City fans back then that 15 years on, they would have a former Italian international managing them and that they would win the league at Manchester United’s expense on goal difference in the dying moments of the final day of the season, they would have laughed at you at the utter absurdity of the notion. But it happened. For me, I want United to win the league every season. For everyone else, they want to see someone else challenge the status quo and Man City have emerged to do that. They have had to spend big to do so, but there is no other way that a club can do that in any of the major leagues in European football, the television money from the Champions League and Premier League just makes the disparity between the haves and the have nots wider without significant outside investment.

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