The forgotten story of … Manchester City flouting finance rules in 1906

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The forgotten story of … Manchester City flouting finance rules in 1906


A punch thrown in 1905 culminated in 17 City players and four directors being banned over the club’s illegal overspending. In May 2019, with Manchester City facing several investigations including one by Uefa regarding the alleged breaching of monetary fair play regulations, the Guardian reported remarks made by the club’s chairman, Khaldoon Mubarak. “With success there’s a particular level of jealousy, envy, whatever you call it,” he said. Almost fortnight ago, when Uefa announced that its investigation had found City guilty, the club released a press release describing the method as “flawed”. “With the prejudicial process now over,” they said, “the club will pursue an impartial judgment as quickly as possible.”

In August 1905, after City’s Billy Meredith had been found guilty of bribery following a Football Association investigation, the Guardian reported remarks made by the forward. “League officials, he asserts, are jealous of the [club’s] growing success,” we wrote, “but he thought the entire country would demand such an unjust decision being reversed by the entire question being reopened directly .”

The whole question was indeed reopened, at which point a variety of misdemeanours spilled out of the club, offences that appear so eerily familiar to those following their latest scandal it’s as if some ribbon of DNA runs through the club. In 1906 they were found, in essence, to be funnelling money through secret accounts to bypass rules designed to prevent wealthy individuals from pouring their money into clubs, skewing the market and gaining an unfair sporting advantage. sbobet online

City hid their misdemeanours well, and in 1906 there have been no Portuguese computer hackers to uncover them. altogether likelihood they might have remained undiscovered had a player called Sandy Turnbull not at some point thrown a punch.

The 1904-05 season was coming to a breathless conclusion, with City, Everton and Newcastle fighting for the title within the final fortnight. Fighting was the acceptable word, with two of City’s last three fixtures – a 2-0 win reception to Everton that just about ended the beaten team’s chances of topping the table, and a 3-2 last-day defeat at Aston Villa that did an equivalent to City – marred by violence on and off the pitch. Everton’s Tom Booth was seen as being the chief aggressor within the first game but at Villa it had been Turnbull.

“The game as an entire was most undesirable ,” wrote Athletic News. “Hynds, Meredith, Turnbull and Livingstone were all guilty of acts which footballers of their class should be the primary to discountenance. On one occasion Turnbull struck [Alex] Leake, who is doubtless the merriest footballer of the day, and when the Villa half-back quite jocularly, and with a smiling face, asked ‘What is that for?’ Turnbull struck him again.” There may are some provocation, as other reports describe Leake hitting Turnbull with a fistful of soil and a few of sly slaps, and therefore the Guardian wrote that “it isn’t certain that Turnbull was more responsible than Leake”. After the sport it seems Turnbull was bundled into Villa’s room and assaulted, while City’s players – who were asked to go away by a side door but refused – were pelted with missiles once they left the bottom .

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