Wednesday 21 February 2018

Balotelli accepts fine in belated City truce

Chris Bascombe and John Percy

Mario Balotelli has attempted to save his Manchester City career by belatedly accepting a two-week club fine for misconduct.

The Italian striker risked being isolated within the club had he pursued an appeal via a Premier League tribunal, and with his future already in doubt after a poor season, his late acceptance of the penalty has at least repaired some damage.

The 22-year-old's greatest ally, manager Roberto Mancini, would have been unable to stand by him for much longer had he proceeded against his employers.

The planned Premier League tribunal on the issue was postponed a matter of hours before it was due to take place, with negotiations leading to a successful attempt to make Balotelli see sense.

City had hit their striker with a £340,000 fine for a series of disciplinary breaches in their title-winning season.

Balotelli queried the punishment and a tribunal was set after the punishment was challenged, with the Professional Footballers' Association intervening on Balotelli's behalf to argue such measures have no precedent and are in breach of agreed guidelines.

The 11th-hour change of heart from Balotelli prevented an unseemly public dispute dragging on. City released a statement confirming there was no compromise agreement and the only settlement as such was the player accepting his punishment.

The statement read: "After amicable talks between the parties, as a sign of respect for Roberto Mancini, the supporters and the club, Mario Balotelli has chosen to accept a two-week fine levied upon him by the club and withdraw his disciplinary appeal."

It was evident the player had realised the folly of taking his own club to a tribunal. To go head-to-head against his own boardroom risked being kept on the sidelines and put on the transfer list.

City insist the striker can continue his career at the Etihad, although one wonders how many more indiscretions it will take before he is cast out.

Villa boss Paul Lambert is ready to make a renewed attempt to sign City forward John Guidetti on loan.

Lambert will enter the January chase to sign the Swede for the rest of the season, with Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill also likely to vie for the player's signature.

Guidetti (20) signed a long-term contract at the Etihad in October. He'll be fully fit in the new year after recovering from a virus that initially left him with paralysis in his right leg.

Lambert had Guidetti scouted during his loan spell at Feyenoord last season, where he scored 20 goals in 23 appearances. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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