Manchester City’s Premier League Dominance: A Spectre of Sportswashing?
Are We Witnessing a One-Club Premier League?
The electrifying title chase between Arsenal and Manchester City this season has sparked a crucial debate regarding the state of competitiveness in the Premier League. Had Arsenal emerged victorious, we’d be celebrating three different champions in four seasons—a testament to the league’s health. Yet, as City looks set to clinch their fifth title in six seasons, comparisons with the Bundesliga and Ligue 1, where dominance is more monopolised, become unavoidable.
This City dominance, only punctuated by Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool’s superhuman effort in 2020, has brought into focus the reality of a Premier League increasingly becoming a one-club show. Is the Premier League becoming akin to the Ligue 1, where Paris Saint-Germain is on track to win nine out of eleven seasons, or the Bundesliga, where Bayern Munich is eyeing their 11th consecutive title? Or are we seeing a parallel to the Serie A dominance of Juventus from 2012 to 2020?
The Guardiola Difference
A key differentiator in the Manchester City narrative is Pep Guardiola. City’s dominance is, to a great extent, attributed to this maestro’s influence and the club’s structure built around him. While the likes of PSG, Bayern, and Juventus have maintained their reign despite frequent managerial changes, City’s supremacy seems more tethered to Guardiola’s genius.
Should Guardiola depart, many expect City to grapple with maintaining their current level of superiority, offering a glimmer of hope to the league’s chasing pack. On the other hand, PSG and Bayern, despite managerial misfits and failures, have invariably managed to clinch their domestic leagues. This highlights the inherent advantages these clubs enjoy, which City, despite their wealth, do not possess to the same extent due to the financial strength of many Premier League clubs.
The question remains: could City have maintained such a stranglehold on the Premier League had they cycled through managers like Carlo Ancelotti, Niko Kovac, and Hansi Flick, as Bayern did from 2016 to 2021?
A Shifting Perception of Manchester City?
Until now, City’s dominance has been met with indifference, even admiration, from many fans. Their victories have often been lauded for denying their rivals—Liverpool, Manchester United, and recently, Arsenal—championship titles. Yet, a tipping point in the external perception of City might be on the horizon.
While supporters of clubs outside the title picture might be indifferent to whether City or any other team wins the league, younger fans who’ve mostly witnessed City’s dominance over the last decade tend to express more animosity.
Moreover, City’s continued Abu Dhabi-backed dominance lends credence to the growing fear among fans that success in the Premier League requires nation-state wealth—a topic brought into sharp focus by the Saudi Arabia-led takeover of Newcastle United in 2021 and the potential Qatari acquisition of Manchester United.
The Impact of Alleged Financial Fair Play Breaches and State-Sponsored Ownership
As City faces over 100 charges of allegedly breaching Premier League financial fair play rules, the question arises: Does this make fans feel less indifferent towards them?
While the world has drastically changed since Manchester City were purchased by the Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008, the recent spotlight on issues like sportswashing raises questions about the future of football. If Newcastle begins to win titles, hostility towards this type of ownership model could intensify.
The Post-Guardiola Future and the Cycle of Football
The exceptional performances of City have drastically raised the points bar needed to clinch the Premier League title. This dominance, combined with their success in
the League Cup and the FA Cup, seems to close off any other routes clubs might have had to secure a trophy.
However, the Guardiola factor cannot be ignored. Prior to his arrival, City won the Premier League sporadically. Post-Guardiola, they could return to that level of inconsistency. We need only look to Manchester United post-Sir Alex Ferguson as an example of the potential difficulties that lie ahead.
Football is cyclical. Both United and Liverpool can attest to periods in the wilderness after eras of domination. While City’s wealth and sensible management ensure they won’t fall far, they will likely face challenges when Guardiola finally departs.
The Implications of City’s Dominance
As the Premier League season wraps up, it’s time to examine our feelings towards City’s reign. Does their dominance still elicit indifference—a testament to their incredible success—or is it starting to irk that the title appears increasingly out of reach for all but one club? The question lingers as we approach the imminent trophy lift by Manchester City. The future of the Premier League may be in the balance.
How many times have articles about Man City mentioned things such as “sportswashing, nation-state wealth, facing charges, domination of the league and ruining football.” All mentioned without any facts to back them up.
Manchester United won eight of the first eleven Premiership Titles. I don’t remember any complaints about their money (Mr Edward’s money) ruining football or their domination of the game being a bad thing.
Often the insinuation that City’s wealth will guarantee no-one can compete with them is made, including in your article. Let’s have a look at how clubs spend the wealth they have. Below are listed the nett spending of the highest spending Premiership clubs in the last five years.
1) Chelsea: £-654.21m
2) Manchester United: £-540.23m
3) Arsenal: £-485.64m
4) West Ham: £-356.5m
5) Newcastle: £-351.89m
6) Tottenham: £-332.48m
7) Wolves: £-276.55m
8) Aston Villa: £-271.24m
9) Liverpool: £-254.19m
10) Manchester City: £-224.97m
If wealth alone makes a club unchallengeable why are City in 10th place and why are Chelsea and Man Utd not winning everything. City’s owner said at the onset that he would spend big to allow City to compete with the other top teams but was looking at the purchase of the club as a business proposition. Their spending over the last five years shows this.
Abu Dhabi is not a nation-state. It’s a Sheikdom or Emirate, one of seven that makes up the Country of the United Arab Emirates.
Far from ruining football City (especially Guardiola) have raised the standards of the Premier League to new levels. How many times have teams reached 90 points in a season before Man City and Liverpool’s in recent years. Not many and one of those was when there were 42 games in a season.
I’ve never seen an example of sports washing given. It just seems to be phrase thrown at Clubs owned by rich people having connections with a country that does or did things we don’t approve of. (Is that not just about every country?) Is the future of the League in doubt. Currently it’s stronger than it has ever been. Enjoy it.