Manchester City and Carlos Tevez were in a state of all-out war last night with the player ready to sue manager Roberto Mancini for defamation and the club’s Abu Dhabi ’s owners resolved that he will not leave the club for less that £50m, having lost all patience and fined him £800,000.
On an extraordinary night of claim and counter-claim, following City’s declaration that an internal disciplinary hearing had found him in five breaches of his contract, the club said Tevez’s misconduct at Bayern Munich on September 27 was pre-meditated and the result of an escalating grievance he felt towards his employers. The club’s sense of dismay and fury at the Tevez saga led owner Sheikh Mansour to take the unprecedented move of instructing chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak to telephone Mancini yesterday, offering unreserved support for whatever course of action he deems fit for Tevez. The Abu Dhabis now view it as a point of principal that the player, whom they considered to have shown them repeated disrespect, must not be allowed to leave at a cut-price rate for reasons of expediency.
City disclosed last night that Tevez, who they say earns £198,000-a-week, had been told six days before the Champions League fixture in Munich that he would have to forego £6m in loyalty bonuses, which would be due to him, because of the two transfer requests he had put in to the club. City insist Tevez had been told in the summer that a clause in his contract, relating to transfer requests, meant he had forfeited all loyalty bonuses but view the his behaviour in the Allianz Arena to be a direct result of that being ratified at a face-to-face meeting with a member of City’s legal team on September 21.
The club also view Tevez’s behaviour before the club’s home game with Everton, three days before the Bayern game, to be indicative of a grievance he was nursing against the club on that fateful night. They say he was furious to have realised he was now only fourth choice striker against David Moyes' side when Mario Balotelli replaced Edin Dzeko and turned the game. A third motive for pre-meditated revolt, in City’s view, is the club’s declaration this summer that if they attempted to do a deal with Corinthians for Tevez – as his representatives’ were asking – then Tevez would forfeit the right to a new or improved contract.
City insist that a critical factor overlooked in the scrutiny of Tevez’s conduct on Munich was his failure to join the pre-match warm-up with the rest of the substitutes and that is certainly a point they will continue to press.
Tevez’s representatives were infuriated by City’s claims last night and though the City disciplinary panel’s decision to fine the player four weeks' wages and warn him as to his future conduct was on the lower side of expectations, the player is ready to fight their verdict at any level open to them. They will certainly take it to the City board and then the Premier League.
The Tevez camp’s firm belief that they can sue Mancini for defamation, by claiming Tevez refused to enter the field of play in Munich, is based on the fact that the letter of explanation from City received by Tevez at 8pm last night does not suggest that he has been found guilty of such an offence – only a refused to “resume warming up.” City’s chief operating officer Graham Wallace, who conducted last week’s hearing, told Tevez in the letter that “in full view, you refused to carry out an instruction given to you by Roberto Mancini and [fitness coach] Ivan Carminati, to resume warming up with a view to playing in the match. You are thereby guilty of misconduct.”
The letter to Tevez was brief and, according to his representatives, did not contain any mention of further breaches. This, despite the fact that the City website version events stating five reasons, including the breach of "an obligation to participate in any matches in which the player is selected to play for the club when directed by a club official." The Tevez camp consider the website version of events to be incorrect, questioning why Wallace did not detail five breaches. Leaks of evidence to be presented to the panel, revealed last Friday, suggested that City did not have evidence to convict the player on a refusal to play. Tevez was last night also found guilty of bringing the game and City into disrepute and of causing "damage to the club".
The Tevez camp refute the City stuff about premeditation in strongest possible terms and one source said they would fight it “to the end of the earth.” They view the premeditation eivdence as a sign that City are casting around for any kind of case possible.
But perhaps the most significant part of the stances assumed last night was City’s resolve that they will not allow Tevez the escape from City which he seeks. The strength of feeling against Tevez is hard to understate and though FIFA articles of association are in place to prevent a player being forced to rot in the reserves, the view from the highest level at the Etihad Stadium last night was that he will not leave for much less than the £50m being demanded this summer.
A City spokesman said: “I can confirm that following a call between Roberto Mancini and the chairman today, the club’s formal position is that no offer for Carlos Tevez will be considered unless it reflects true market values.” Tevez is contracted for three more years at the club. It will be for Mancini to decide how he is utilised for those three years. Whether the Italian will want the continued rancour which comes with retaining him remains to be seen. Reports from Brazil last night had Corinthians president Andres Sanchez quoted as saying that “Tevez is about to sign with [us] but we are not going to pay £18m after all.” The view from Abu Dhabis suggested otherwise.