Gary Neville has rowed in behind Manchester City after the club was found in breach of UEFA’s financial fair play (FFP) rules and banned from all European competitions for two seasons.
UEFA announced the decision on Friday while City were also given a fine of €30m (£25m) in what is the most severe punishment for a breach of FFP to date, and an indication as to how seriously the football authority is taking City’s actions.
The reigning English champions were found guilty by UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) of having falsely inflated their sponsorship revenues when they made submissions for the FFP compliance process.
The club released a statement on their official website outlining that they were “disappointed but not shocked” by UEFA’s decision and that they would “pursue and impartial judgement” on the issue with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Speaking on Sky Sports’ coverage of Chelsea versus Manchester United, Neville, who is an owner of Salford City, criticised FFP, claiming it is the wrong way to apply the financial ruling.
“I, to be fair, have had a long-held view on FFP. Now, people will say it’s because I’m the owner of Salford City and essentially we’d still be in the Evo-Stik North if we weren’t able to invest more, even though it’s obviously not applied at that level.
“But, the idea that Manchester City are not able to invest the money of the ownership, I disagree with. I’ve always felt FFP is the wrong way to apply the financial rules.
“My hometown club, Bury, went bust last year which is obviously a club very close to my heart but I think FFP was brought in to stop clubs essentially going bust.
“However, there are different ways of achieving that. In all other forms of business, there are bank guarantees, there are bonds, there are owners pledges. Ultimately, if owners sign up to contracts or are allowed contracts to be signed under their ownership, then they should have the money in place to be able to fulfil those contracts.”
Neville later claimed that he feels Man City will beat UEFA when they meet in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“There are negatives with that and there have been some horror stories of where owners have essentially invested into clubs and they’ve not followed through with their commitments. That’s got to be stopped.
“But there are other ways of stopping that without applying FFP. So I have a real problem with FFP to start with and I have done to be fair for seven or eight years, I don’t think it’s the right way to apply it.
“I think City will beat UEFA, I think UEFA, I’ve got no faith in them whatsoever. I think essentially they are a hopeless organisation who will just apply, to be fair, what will be erratic disciplinary sanctions for different things and I think City will beat them in the courts and I think it’ll get stuck in the courts for some time but City will win in the end.
See the full club of Neville below.
"I think City will beat UEFA. I have no faith in them at all" @GNev2 on Manchester City's European ban
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) February 17, 2020