This came up a few days ago, (looks like on July 23rd) but I am not always a person who is right on top of the news and I like to let my takes percolate for a little bit before I release them into the world. Pep Guardiola let loose with some harsh words about Arsenal:
“And Arsenal, I have all the respect for what they are on the pitch, not much off the pitch, but on the pitch, a lot. Congratulations to them and good luck in the final.”
This stems from the Financial Fair Play drama, here is a quick summary from Sam Lee and James McNicholas at the Athletic:
As reported by the Daily Mail on Monday, City are very much of the opinion that the Gunners were the ringleaders of a group of Premier League clubs who wrote to CAS in March, urging them not to allow City to delay the appeal against their Champions League ban so they could play in the competition next season while a verdict was reached.
City were aggrieved by that — they were actually trying to speed the process up — and Guardiola made sure to list every single club last week. The fact that City believe Arsenal were behind it will be one of the reasons for Guardiola’s fresh barb.
I am of two minds on all of this.
On the first hand, Manchester City claiming to be vindicated and crowing about how they didn't do anything wrong really seems like total bull shit to me. I think that it is pretty obvious that they at a bare minimum violated the spirit of the rules and I am convinced that they broke the actual rules of FFP. All of the reporting on the matter also suggests that they did everything in their power to obstruct the investigation by UEFA.
What the Court of Arbitration found from my reading is that UEFA didn't follow the administrative rules around enforcement that they created and that is why the ban was not upheld.
So yeah, Manchester City broke the rules but UEFA also didn't follow their rules so they couldn't punish them.
My second thought is about what FFP is and why I don't like it in general.
To me FFP feels like a classic regulation that is put in place by incumbent players to limit the competition that they face from upstarts. I think Arsenal pretty obviously fit into this and were a team that thought with vigorus enforcement they would have greatly benefitted. Arsenal were never the richest team in England or Europe but they were close enough that they could afford to buy very good players and if they were smart enough they could hang with the elite and win trophies.
When the petro dollars and sugar daddies came into the game, it threatended to displace teams like Arsenal and with that these regulations were introduced. The came with the justification that it was to protect clubs from financial ruin but I think that was just a veener to justify trying to lock out these clubs from using owner money to join the elite.
IF FFP came with more revenue sharing, where the top teams looked to actually level the financial playing field I would have more time for it but that is certainly not the case.
So I guess rounding things back to the original topic of Pep getting mad at Arsenal, I think that there is certainly some justification as Arsenal were one of the leading teams that tried to pull up the ladder into the elite on Manchester City. City just aren't a very sympathetic carachter in this drama.