IT HAS always been the most tribal of sports.
One where the mood of an entire week can be shaped by 90 minutes.
Eternally driven by emotion.
And over the past few days we have had further proof of the most dominant force of all… jealousy.
Well, take a look at the reaction from Manchester City’s biggest rivals when the Premier League charged them with 115 financial rule breaches and think again.
From Old Trafford to Anfield, from Stamford Bridge to North London, there has been the sound of gleeful palms rubbed together.
By those desperate to see the demise of the best team over the past decade being brought to book.
Some even calling for them to be relegated to the bottom tier.
Well, don’t all those now baying for blood have any sense of irony?
It’s as if they don’t know what a bad owner actually is.
Although listening to them, they certainly should.
Look at the ones who have always had the most to say about the City model and method.
No one could tell you more about jealousy than them.
Starting four miles away at Old Trafford, where United have an owning family hated by fans and trying to sell the club.
Down the East Lancs Road at Liverpool, whose supporters are becoming increasingly disillusioned, there’s another owner trying to find a buyer.
Like Chelsea, who have just sold the club to someone whose idea of how FFP should work is his own but no one else’s.
Or Tottenham, a club hard to take seriously when the one thing guaranteed at every home game is a booming chorus of “Levy Out”.
And then there are City.
With arguably the best-loved owner in football — not through scarf-waving and soundbites but by what he’s done for their club and an entire community.
There was a time, before Sheikh Mansour arrived, when the area around the Etihad was a derelict, downtrodden slum.
The suburbs of Beswick, Ancoats, Newton Heath and Ardwick were places where anyone not locking the car door at a red light might find an unwanted guest in the passenger seat.
One where locals were shunted to other parts of the city in the 1980s as part of a slum clearance scheme.
Even the soil in the area around the main shaft to the old Bradford mine — a short throw-in from the Etihad — was poisonous.
But now it is a site for some of the most desirable properties in Manchester and where a visit to the City stadium is one of the best fan experiences in the world.
A club with owners who have done more than anyone to help promote the women’s game, with a side enjoying facilities right out of the top drawer.
Yet ones who are now accused of pumping more money into their club than the rules permit.
Is there any other business where you are limited on the size of the investment you can make?
It’s interesting to see that the UK government is on course for £10billion of UAE investment after announcing a “relationship reset” with the Gulf State.
So the Abu Dhabi money is clearly good enough for them, but not to spend in the Premier League.
Has there ever been a better example of football’s crazy FFP rules?
It should be about focusing on conmen and crooks, not trying to trip up someone who has — and is — flooding football with millions.
Yes, City have made a few cock-ups with their managerial appointments, but the good has very much outweighed the bad.
Far from simply for their own supporters, too.
And believe me, these aren’t words of someone who spent years on the Kippax and bleeds sky blue.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Having financial boundaries is one thing.
No one would argue against that — as long as they train the sights on the right people.
There’s an old Aussie saying that a rising trickle raises all boats.
But in the Premier League it seems jealous rivals and d*** head rules are more intent on trying to sink them.