How bad are things between Manchester City and their striker Mario Balotelli? So bad that Balotelli has taken the highly unusual move of taking the club to a Premier League tribunal this week.
It seems that last season City fined Balotelli £340,000 for what they believe was been persistently poor discipline on the pitch.Balotelli missed eight matches last season via suspension, and when you add in the UEfa suspension from his time at Inter, he missed a total of 11 games through suspension during 2011-12.
The problem for the champions is that fining a player for persistent cards falls outside rules drawn up by the Professional Footballers’ Association, the Premier League and the Football League several years ago.
Clubs can fine players for dissent and violent conduct that occurs during matches, but there is nothing in the rules that allows them to impose internal sanctions when a player merely accumulates a string of cards.
This is the second time a City player has challenged a fine imposed by the club. Last season Carlos Tevez managed to get a four-week fine of £796,000 halved after the intervention of the PFA, so he did not have to go to the tribunal. But there has been no intervention here and Balotelli has his lawyers ready to go.
Only three players in the history of the Premier League have ever taken their clubs to the tribunal as it usually means that dialogue between the two parties have broken down and the next step is for the player to be sold.
Premier League Players Who Have Taken Their Clubs To Tribunal before
Charlie Adam v Blackpool – November 2010: Their captain launched a case after the Tangerines failed to pay a £25,000 bonus which was owed when Championship safety had been secured. Adam won but legal fees were considerable. He then signed for Liverpool.
Dan Gosling v Everton – July 2010: Earned the right to leave the club on a free transfer after successfully arguing that as his contract extension was only offered verbally and not in writing it was invalid. He moved to Newcastle for nothing.
Gabriel Heinze v Man Utd – August 2007: Tried to force a transfer to arch-rivals Liverpool after losing his place, but Sir Alex Ferguson blocked it. The Argentinian defender appealed to the Premier League but failed and was sold to Real Madrid for £6.8m.
Will this move lead to Man City selling Balotelli next month?