Manchester City have been accused of breaching Premier League rules regarding the clubs signing of academy youngster Gabriel Fernando Almeida back in 2011.
The Brazilian joined the club’s academy system as a 14-year-old after previously spending time with the likes of Sporting Lisbon and Tottenham, with the youngster regarded as one of Europe’s brightest prospects upon his switch to the Etihad.
According to The Athletic, the player – now 24 – and his father have revealed the extent to which City went to secure his signing almost a decade ago, including breaching Premier League rules and regulations.
Manchester City are said to have created a scouting ‘job’ for Almeida’s father within the club’s academy as part of the package to entice the youngster, with The Athletic confirming documentation of a criminal record check passed by Almeida senior and signed by City’s junior academy manager.
The offering of employment to family members has been commonplace by clubs to ‘circumvent FIFA regulations’ when deals involve a major relocation, though Almeida senior claims he never completed any work for the club and the job title was a means of ‘increasing payments to the family while the player was under the age of 16.’
The claims from Almeida would put City in breach of the regulations in place at that time, with the Premier League rule N.90.1 for the 2011-12 season prohibiting clubs from attempting to ‘induce a player to become registered as a student by that club by offering him, or any person connected with him, either directly or indirectly, a benefit or payment of any description whether in cash or in kind”.
Almeida – who failed to make the grade and has since returned to Brazil – says his revelations are to warn players of the ‘pitfalls’ of moving to European academies at a young age, though Manchester City have since refuted ‘any wrongdoing’.
The claims could lead to another inquest into the club’s dealings with City having successfully overturned a two-season ban from European competition last year after being accused of breaching Financial Fair Play regulations.
Pep Guardiola’s side had initially received the sanctions after being found guilty of misleading UEFA regarding their financial dealings, though saw their suspension overturned following an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the verdict stating that most of the alleged breaches were either ‘not established or time-barred’.
Whether the Premier League look into the latest allegations is yet to be seen.