Cham­pi­ons ‘ig­nored warn­ing’ from se­nior staff over spon­sor­ship deal

Con­tract posed ‘big risk to City’s rep­u­ta­tion’ Club avoided pub­li­cis­ing ar­range­ment in Bri­tain

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Sport | Football - By James Ducker

Manch­ester City ig­nored warn­ings from their own staff by strik­ing a spon­sor­ship deal with a con­struc­tion com­pany ac­cused of mis­treat­ing mi­grant work­ers, ac­cord­ing to leaked doc­u­ments. As the head of Spain’s La Liga claimed Uefa may be re­luc­tant to take ac­tion against City and Paris St-ger­main for al­legedly flout­ing Fi­nan­cial Fair Play rules be­cause of a “con­flict of in­ter­est”, City were fac­ing an­other wave of dam­ag­ing al­le­ga­tions yes­ter­day.

Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est claims from the Foot­ball Leaks whistle­blow­ers pub­lished by Ger­man mag­a­zine Der Spiegel, City pushed ahead with a £7 mil­lion-a-year re­gional spon­sor­ship con­tract with Arabtec, a con­tro­ver­sial Dubaibased con­struc­tion com­pany, de­spite club staff ex­press­ing con­cerns about the moral­ity of such a deal and the po­ten­tial im­pact it would have on their rep­u­ta­tion. The dis­clo­sures came as Gianni In­fantino, the Fifa pres­i­dent, de­fended his role in se­cretly help­ing City ne­go­ti­ate a FFP set­tle­ment with Uefa.

In the lat­est al­le­ga­tions to plunge City into tur­moil, it is al­leged a risk anal­y­sis re­gard­ing a pos­si­ble deal with Arabtec was car­ried out by ex­ec­u­tives but that, de­spite the re­port con­clud­ing a part­ner­ship with the com­pany would have “sig­nif­i­cant po­ten­tial to dam­age the per­cep­tion and stand­ing of the club and its own­ers”, the club struck an agree­ment re­gard­less, sign­ing a re­gional con­tract that would be pub­li­cised only in Arab states, Rus­sia and Turkey, where there was con­sid­ered to be less risk of con­dem­na­tion.

The BBC had re­ported in 2009 how poorly Arabtec had treated its em­ploy­ees. Arabtec work­ers had gone on strike in May 2013, which was said to have re­sulted “in vi­o­lence and de­por­ta­tions” and there had also been re­ports about the dire con­di­tions in Abu Dhabi for mi­grant work­ers.

Vicky Kloss, the City di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions, was said to have sent an email to club ex­ec­u­tives warn­ing them to avoid a deal. “I think it’s the big­gest sin­gle risk to [our] rep­u­ta­tion we have faced since 2008,” Kloss wrote. “The gap be­tween what we do and what they [Arabtec] do is un­bridge­able.”

City have yet to com­ment and con­tinue to re­fer to a state­ment last week in which they said the leaks con­sti­tuted an “or­gan­ised and clear” at­tempt to “dam­age the club’s rep­u­ta­tion”.

Der Spiegel re­ported last week City and PSG breached FFP rules by €188 mil­lion (£164 mil­lion) and €215 mil­lion re­spec­tively in 2014, and tried to cover up the breach us­ing vast spon­sor­ship deals con-

nected to their oil-rich own­ers that far ex­ceeded their true mar­ket value. City have sub­se­quently been ac­cused in more leaked doc­u­ments of an ar­ray of at­tempts to in­flate and back­date spon­sor­ship deals to “de­ceive” Uefa.

On Fri­day, Der Spiegel dis­closed how In­fantino did a se­cret deal over FFP sanc­tions with City’s Abu Dhabi own­ers and Paris St-ger­main’s Qatari own­ers while he was gen­eral sec­re­tary at Uefa. Both clubs es­caped with €20 mil­lion fines and avoided a Cham­pi­ons League ban. In­fantino de­fended his in­volve­ment, telling re­porters: “We were do­ing our job and saved the sys­tem and Eu­ro­pean club foot­ball.”

Uefa has yet to com­ment pub­licly but Javier Te­bas, chief ex­ec­u­tive of La Liga, fears the Eu­ro­pean gov­ern­ing body’s links with broad­caster bein Sport, which has com­mit­ted bil­lions of pounds to tele­vise Cham­pi­ons League matches and other com­pe­ti­tions, present an ob­sta­cle to Uefa act­ing. BEIN is owned by the Qatari royal fam­ily, who also own PSG. City are owned by the rul­ing fam­ily of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emi­rates. “There’s a con­flict of in­ter­est,” Te­bas told The New York Times.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.