Man City faces repercussions for misleading UEFA on finances
EUROPEAN soccer’s leadership has an initial conclusion on leaked Manchester City correspondence: The club has been misleading UEFA over its finances.
With the power to ban clubs from the Champions League, the consequences from UEFA could be severe for the Premier League champions.
UEFA discovered from reading internal emails from City, which were published by German media outlet Der Spiegel last month, the extent of schemes by the club to allegedly cover up the true source of income in a bid to comply with Financial Fair Play regulations, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the situation publicly while UEFA conducts a review of the City case.
City has been transformed into an English soccer power in the decade since being bought by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and a member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family, winning the Premier League three times since 2012. But unfettered spending on players has been restricted by European soccer’s governing body — regardless of the owners’ wealth.
City has already been punished by UEFA for violating FFP, striking an agreement in 2014 that saw the team fined rather than banned from the Champions League for inflated sponsorship deals with companies linked to the club or its ownership.
UEFA publicly said last month that evidence from “Football Leaks” could lead to past cases being re-opened. The person with knowledge of the situation said it was more feasible to use the leaks to re-assess the candor of club executives and as a basis to judge City’s compliance with FFP in the current three-year assessment period.
That covers 2015 when Der Spiegel said emails were being sent internally at City showing the manipulation of sponsorship revue from Etihad Airways, the state-owned airline from Abu Dhabi, which is the naming rights sponsor of City’s stadium and training campus as well as appearing on jerseys. The sponsorship was said to generate 67.5 million pounds (about $85 million) annually for City. But City’s holding company — the state-backed Abu Dhabi United Group — channeled 59.9 million pounds back to Etihad, according to Jorge Chumillas, the club’s chief financial officer, in an internal email to club director Simon Pearce.
Given the fresh insight into City’s financial dealings, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin has said there was a “public interest” in the correspondence being leaked, while questioning how it was obtained.
“We are assessing the situation. We have an independent body working on it,” Ceferin said Monday. “Very soon you will have the answers on what will happen in this concrete case.”
Man City players celebrate after winning the English Premier League soccer match between Watford and Man City in Watford, England on Tuesday.