A Week in the City: Manchester City 1-0 UEFA
It’s Christmas morning. You’re awake well in advance of the time that you know you’re allowed to open your presents and you just have to sit there, waiting for the clock to reach that magical number. Is it going to be a brand new PlayStation (other consoles are available), or is it going to be an EyeToy game without the actual EyeToy camera, devastating you for the remainder of the day (I’ve not forgotten this, mum)?
This was how this morning felt for City fans across the globe. On Friday, CAS announced that they would be revealing their judgement on the Manchester City vs UEFA derby at 9:30am UK time the following Monday. The choices were simple – either CAS upholds a two-year ban which was dished out by UEFA on Valentine’s Day or CAS rules in favour of Manchester City and the ban is scrapped.
There was talk of a potential reduction of the ban to just the one year – however in a case such as this I would imagine that both parties were looking for a definitive answer. A reduction of the ban to one year, whilst it would have helped UEFA more than City, would ultimately benefit nobody as UEFA’s integrity is compromised whilst City’s guilt is also still held up.
This article isn’t to go into the boring detail and minutiae of how we ended up here, where UEFA are in the wrong or where the numerous issues in reporting have been along the way. That’s for another time (and trust me, it’s coming).
This article is for us lot. City fans. The ones who’ve been spending the last five months watching and listening as journalists, pundits and commentators have been passing off our two-year ban, despite being subject to appeal, as gospel.
The ones who’ve had to put our complete faith in a bunch of millionaires who we see speak publicly maybe once or twice a year, if that.
The ones who’ve had to trust that our club, a club which was confident it would pass FFP just before failing it in 2013 and confident that UEFA would drop their investigation a month or two before they slapped a two-year Champions League ban on the club, were correct in their assertion that the charges would be dropped in the face of “irrefutable evidence”.
To say that we never had any doubts would, certainly from a personal perspective, be a downright lie.
This article is for Ferran Soriano, who made the rather bold decision to put his knackers on the line days after UEFA’s decision was made. Publicly fronting up to fans and media alike, it was to be the last public statement the club made on the club’s charges before the decision came through and he was very much at the front and centre. He put his reputation on the line in one of the most public arenas possible in the sporting world. To promise that the club would be proved correct in the eyes of CAS, the ultimate authority in sport, would have come with potentially career-ruining consequences should things have gone in UEFA’s favour.
The natural instinct for many in the aftermath of this news, naturally, has been to return to the numerous people who over the last five months have made ridiculous assertions, have treated City’s guilt as a done deal and, quite frankly, have treated the many City fans who (amongst the various inevitable abuse and trolls) have politely put forward valid counterpoints in an attempt to engage in a reasoned debate about the whole situation with nothing but contempt.
Today, tomorrow, probably the rest of the week, is the time for celebrating and gloating. We’ve silenced the doubters. Journalists up and down the country would be spitting out editiorials for fun all day long on the long-term implications of Manchester City’s defeat at the hands of CAS had the ban been upheld. We’d be reading endless copy about how Kevin De Bruyne is desperate to leave, how Raheem Sterling is on his way out, how Pep has already agreed to join Juventus once August’s Champions League run is complete. Will Sheikh Mansour sell up? Does sportswashing really work?
Instead, Twitter is awash with FFP eulogies as journalists and fans alike mourn the loss of a rule which makes football objectively unfair and objectively less competitive. Savour it. Drink it in. I feel that only a Champions League trophy in the Manchester City trophy cabinet will ever provoke a reaction with such high sodium levels ever again.
Little City, the noisy neighbours, Sheikh Mansour’s plaything, have just taken on one of the most corrupt organisations in the sporting world and won. Yet the overwhelming mood across football is one of loss. Just another one to chalk up to Arab Money. CAS are corrupt and easily bought, after all. Not like UEFA, the shining paragons of justice.
But that’s for another time. Arguing with journalists who have a problem with our victory is for another time. Today, tomorrow, the day after, just laugh at them. City have won. CAS have proven that, much to my surprise, your average football journalist knows absolutely nothing about legal proceedings which law professionals have spent the best part of a decade to become experts in. There are some people who you'll never convince of City's lack of guilt and for now it's best to just not engage with those people. This isn't about them right now.
This is how it feels to be City, this is how it feels to be small. This is how it feels when your team wins nothing at all.
You can follow Joe on Twitter here: @joebutters
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