City sought to by­pass fi­nan­cial fair­play rules: re­port

Gulf Times Sport - - FRONT PAGE -

Premier League cham­pi­ons Manch­ester City at­tempted to by­pass UEFA’s Fi­nan­cial Fair Play (FFP) reg­u­la­tions by al­low­ing their Abu Dhabi-based spon­sors to make cash in­jec­tions, Der Spiegel al­leged yes­ter­day.

The Ger­man news mag­a­zine said it had seen in­ter­nal doc­u­ments in which the club’s of­fi­cials dis­cussed how to wipe out a short­fall of al­most £10mn ($13mn).

The al­le­ga­tions are the lat­est in the so­called Foot­ball Leaks se­ries.

FFP rules were in­tro­duced to curb Euro­pean sides rack­ing up huge debts and to put lim­its on how much clubs could lose over pre­scribed pe­ri­ods.

City were fined 60mn eu­ros by UEFA in 2014 for breach­ing those rules, but the two par­ties reached an agree­ment un­der which the club would get 40mn eu­ros back if they stuck to the terms of their set­tle­ment.

Der Spiegel says City were in dan­ger of vi­o­lat­ing the FFP rules af­ter they sacked man­ager Roberto Mancini in 2013 af­ter the club failed to suc­cess­fully de­fend their ti­tle.

The mag­a­zine claims that in an in­ter­nal e-mail, City’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Jorge Chu­mil­las wrote: “We will have a short­fall of 9.9mn pounds in or­der to com­ply with UEFA FFP this sea­son. The deficit is due to RM (Roberto Mancini) ter­mi­na­tion. I think that the only so­lu­tion left would be an ad­di­tional amount of AD (Abu Dhabi) spon­sor­ship rev­enues that cov­ers this gap.”

To evade UEFA sanc­tions, an­other City ex­ec­u­tive al­legedly sug­gested “a back­dated deal for the next two years (...) paid up front”.

Der Spiegel claimed that 10 days af­ter the end of the sea­son, Chu­mil­las an­nounced his de­ci­sion — spon­sor­ship con­tracts would be ad­justed, with the club’s main spon­sor Eti­had pay­ing £1.5mn more, the Abu Dhabi tourism author­ity chip­ping in £5.5mn and in­vest­ment fund Aabar £0.5mn.

Cru­cially, all the spon­sors were al­legedly asked to act as if the deal had been agreed at the start of the sea­son.

When Chu­mil­las asked his col­league Si­mon Pearce if they could change the date of pay­ments from the spon­sors, Pearce al­legedly an­swered: “Of course, we can do what we want.”

In a re­peated state­ment they first is­sued last week, City said they would not comment on what they de­scribed as “out of con­text ma­te­ri­als pur­port­edly hacked or stolen from City Foot­ball Group and Manch­ester City per­son­nel and as­so­ci­ated peo­ple.”

The club’s man­ager Pep Guardiola in­sisted he wasn’t aware of any wrong­do­ing.

“I’m com­pletely hon­est, I don’t know what hap­pen be­cause I’m a man­ager. I’m fo­cused on what hap­pens on the pitch, in the locker room,” said Guardiola yes­ter­day on the eve of City’s Cham­pi­ons League clash with Shakhtar Donetsk.

“The busi­ness and how they han­dle this sort of sit­u­a­tion, I am com­pletely out.

“But I am part of the club, I am sup­port­ive of ab­so­lutely the club and we want to do what we have to do in terms of the rules.”

The ac­cu­sa­tions hinge on City’s in­sis­tence that the Abu Dhabi-based com­pa­nies are in­de­pen­dent spon­sors and not merely tools of the Gulf state.

If clubs can show that rev­enues come from spon­sors and not just their own­ers, they can make larger ex­pen­di­ture on play­ers with­out fall­ing foul of the FFP rules.

Some of City’s Euro­pean ri­vals, in­clud­ing Bay­ern Mu­nich and Atletico Madrid, have com­plained about such prac­tices.

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