Balotelli drops legal case against fine to save his crumbling career

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The Independent Online

Manchester City's Mario Balotelli has backed down from his decision to challenge a £340,000 club fine at a Premier League tribunal, in a final attempt to salvage his career at the club.

The Italian's agent, Mino Raiola, said last night that the 22-year-old was determined to fix things with manager Roberto Mancini and a City coaching staff who are increasingly sceptical about the player. But Balotelli's prospects at City are hanging by a thread and the striker was persuaded that they would have been damaged irreparably had he allowed a QC to proceed yesterday with an appeal against the club's decision to fine him two weeks' wages.

It is understood that the change of heart was not a result of an intervention from Mancini. Instead, it was the Professional Footballers' Association who made it clear that bringing the case and winning it could have severe ramifications for him. It is understood that the substantial legal costs racked up by the case will be met equally by player and club.

The PFA believed that Balotelli would have won the case against City, who went outside disciplinary guidelines to claim that the player was in breach of contract last season because of his general disciplinary record. The guidelines only allow a player to be fined if he receives a sequence of yellow or red cards for either dissent or violent conduct, rather than a general sequence of cards. The players' union made it clear to Balotelli that the accumulation of disciplinary points for those two proscribed offences would have entitled City to charge him more than two weeks' wages, if they used the disciplinary guidelines as and when he committed those offences in the 2011-12 campaign.

City are vindicated for their punishment of a player who missed 21.7 per cent of last season's games through suspension. But it is understood that the PFA has pointed out to the club that they would be far better served operating within the guidelines agreed between the PFA, clubs and the Premier League.

A joint statement issued between the club and his representatives was notable for Balotelli's assertion that he had stood down "as a sign of respect for Roberto Mancini" – now his only ally at City.

With Mancini not even considering Balotelli for the game at Reading on Saturday, the manager is also preparing for the Christmas period without Samir Nasri, who is set to be out for two weeks with a groin injury.