The Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has personally sanctioned the £340,000 fine and misconduct charge for Mario Balotelli, which the striker is to fight at a Premier League tribunal – pushing him closer to an exit from the club.
Mancini has been isolated for months in his desire to persist with the player but is behind his club in the unusual course of disciplinary action which places Balotelli in a state of open conflict with the Premier League champions.
Balotelli will appear before an independent two-man league panel in London on Wednesday to challenge a fine of two weeks' wages – the maximum a club may impose on a misconduct charge – which he was hit with at the end of last season because of his general disciplinary record. The club took the unusual step because they felt that his on-field indiscipline was causing him to miss far too many games, rather than because of any of his off-field antics.
It is rare for a club to issue a fine for an ongoing pattern of yellow and red cards, rather than a specific punishable act. It is thought – though unconfirmed – that the club's Abu Dhabian owners may have been instrumental in pushing for the punishment because of their growing frustration with the disrepute Balotelli was bringing upon the club and the problems Mancini was encountering in getting the message through to him.
Balotelli missed eight Premier League matches through suspension last season, just over 21 per cent of those games. In all competitions, he missed 11 of 54 – 20.37 per cent. The club's concern about his indiscipline reached its peak in last April's defeat at Arsenal, where he was dismissed for two bookable tackles after the referee missed his studs-up tackle on Alex Song, which Mancini admitted he should have been punished for.
Balotelli's indignation about the fine has led him to go through a similar disciplinary process to the one Carlos Tevez embarked upon last season. The 22-year-old appealed against the fine before a two-man independent executive City board, who rejected his protest. Balotelli subsequently took the decision three weeks ago to take the matter to a Premier League tribunal.
Tevez ultimately withdrew his threat to take his own gross misconduct charge – imposed for his refusal to play as a substitute in a Champions League tie at Bayern Munich – to the league. That was after the Professional Footballers' Association prevented City from imposing a four-week fine on the Argentine and backed the striker's argument that he had not refused to play in the game. The PFA did not respond yesterday to inquiries on whether it was supporting Balotelli in his own case against City.
Balotelli's agent Mino Raiola, who told The Independent two months ago that the player wanted to fight to preserve his City career despite his limited starts for the club this season, yesterday said: "I don't have any comments to make. You must call City. Mario is happy in Manchester. I don't have any comments to make. Call City."
Balotelli was left out of the City squad for Saturday's trip to Newcastle and Mancini's staff feel he is not fully fit. Though he trained yesterday, he is by no means guaranteed to make the squad for next Saturday's home fixture with Reading.
City will allow a Northumbria Police investigation into the alleged use of racist language in an altercation between Aleksandar Kolarov and supporters at Newcastle on Saturday to proceed before deciding on any course of action.Reuse content