Mind Games!

Guardiola raises derby day tem­per­a­ture as he piles pressure on match ref­eree

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Front Page - By Sam Wal­lace and Mike Whal­ley

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.”

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