Guardiola raises derby day temperature as he piles pressure on match referee
The Premier League has broken its silence on the financial fair play allegations levelled at Manchester City this week by the Football Leaks website via the German newspaper Der Spiegel, promising to act if it finds that any of its own rules have been broken.
The league leaders have been hit with a series of allegations over their finances, including that they struck a backroom deal with Uefa having broken the European governing body’s financial fair play regulations.
The Premier League does not permit its teams to lose more than £105 million over a three-year period and, as things stand, the accounts submitted by City have not put the club in danger of breaching that limit. The statement emerged on the eve of the Manchester derby, ahead of which City manager Pep Guardiola called on Anthony Taylor to show strength, amid growing pressure on the locally-based referee.
The League made clear that if there was new evidence showing that City had broken FFP rules, then it would act. So far the Premier League has only seen the reports published by Der Spiegel and has not been privy to any new evidence or the cache of documents which the Football Leaks website says was obtained legally.
In a statement responding to the allegations made against City this week, a spokesman for the Premier League said: “The Premier League has a range of financial rules and disclosure obligations that apply to all clubs, and result in ongoing monitoring of club finances. If we receive any substantiated material that suggests our rules may have been breached, or relevant information has not been disclosed, we will investigate and have a track record of doing so. These processes are confidential and we do not comment publicly unless there is anything substantial to say.”
There has been a range of allegations made against City, including that they topped up sponsorship deals from Abu Dhabi commercial partners via companies based in the British Virgin Islands. They are also alleged to have paid for-
mer manager Roberto Mancini £1.75million on top of his United Kingdom salary, justifying the payments into an offshore account by claiming it was for consultancy on behalf of the Abu Dhabi club Al Jazira.
City have said that the Der Spiegel reports are an “organised and clear” attempt to “damage the club’s reputation”. They say the documents quoted are “materials purportedly hacked or stolen” and have been used out of context. They have not commented specifically on the allegations.
With regard to the match at the Etihad, the Premier League said it was happy with Taylor’s appointment, even though he comes from Wythenshawe, which is only six miles from Old Trafford. Guardiola was at pains not to join in with the criticism elsewhere of the referee.
‘Referee will hopefully make good decisions for both sides; all Europe will be watching’
It is not the first time that Taylor has faced scrutiny for refereeing a United match. Jose Mourinho was fined £50,000 for “putting an extra layer of pressure” on the official before he took charge of their 0-0 draw at Liverpool in October 2016.
When asked about Taylor, Guardiola cited mistakes made by referees in two City games this season and said: “If he is a fan of United or City, everyone can be a fan of whoever he wants, so no problem.
“He is going to try to do the best job, like we try to do as managers and players. Mr Taylor is going to try to have a good game. The important thing is to focus on our game. Hopefully he can make good decisions for both sides and it will be a good game. All England and all Europe is going to watch us. That is the most important pleasure.”