Manchester City risk long battle with Mario Balotelli over disrepute fine

Players' union surprised by club's punishment of striker, which goes against guidelines

Manchester City are taking a substantial risk by going outside of disciplinary guidelines to fine Mario Balotelli £340,000, resulting in a legal case which could drag on into next year. The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) is surprised that City have charged the Italian with misconduct and fined him two weeks' wages, because guidelines they have put in place with all clubs and the Premier League do not entitle sides to fine players for a general accumulation of yellow and red cards – as the Premier League champions are doing in Balotelli's case.

City can point to the disrepute Balotelli has brought upon the club and manager Roberto Mancini's persistent attempts to tackle a disciplinary record which saw the striker miss 11 of the club's 54 games – 20.37 per cent – last season.

The Premier League champions, who ascribe huge importance to the way players' conduct reflects on the positive image of the club, will argue the 22-year-old Italian is in breach of his own contract when they face him at a Premier League tribunal in London tomorrow. But experts in the field believe that the PFA/Premier League guidelines – which only allow clubs to fine players for a sequence of dissent and violent conduct charges – will take precedence over the contract. City are confident they will win their highly unusual case against Balotelli, whom they fined at the end of last season because of a pattern of on-field behaviour. But even if the two-man tribunal rejects Balotelli's appeal against their fine, the player can take it to a Football League appeals committee, dragging the public dispute into next year. Potentially the legal case could stretch beyond his career at the Etihad, if this public spat does prove the last straw for him there.

City also went outside PFA and Premier League guidelines last season, when they attempted to fine Carlos Tevez four weeks wages, later reduced to two, after the PFA backed the striker's argument that he had not refused to play as a substitute against Bayern Munich.

This time, Balotelli's lawyers are expected to draw heavily on the disciplinary template agreed several years ago by the PFA, the Premier League, Football League and all clubs, relating to "field discipline." It provided a way of clubs being able to fine players for violent conduct and dissent – the two acts which the clubs were very keen to wipe out of the game – with fines ratcheting up each time a player was cautioned or dismissed for those two offences, in the course of a season.

The guidelines were laid down to prevent players challenging clubs' attempts to fine them and the PFA feel that the system is robust. The accumulation system means that players cautioned a third time for dissent are fined 40 per cent of their weekly wages, while a third dismissal for violent conduct brings the maximum fine of two weeks' wages.

But nowhere is there anything agreed for a general accumulation of yellows and reds and that is why Balotelli is within his rights to take the case to tribunal. His lawyers are likely to argue that clubs cannot use the guidelines when it suits them and then cherry pick the cases where they want to disregard them. There are few precedents in cases like this as few clubs have attempted to go beyond the guidelines.

Mancini's senior players and some of his coaching staff are so disenchanted with Balotelli and his distracting dressing room presence that they have told the manager he should jettison him in January. They contend that Balotelli's occasional moments of effectiveness on the field are now far outweighed by the detriment he is causing the club, on and off the field. Senior figures hope Mancini leaves him out of the first-team picture over Christmas, starting with Saturday's home game with Reading.

Balotelli will have Italian lawyers representing him at the Premier League tribunal, where the PFA will be acting for him in an advisory capacity to translate the nuances, with the union's former chairman, Richard Jobson, liaising.

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?