Manchester City are facing new allegations of financial misconduct amid reports that a ‘mystery figure from the United Arab Emirates’ paid the club £30m.
City were charged with breaking financial rules across nine seasons by the Premier League in February, with the Premier League champions facing 115 charges of breaching the division’s financial rules after a four-year investigation.
The alleged breaches relate to a period between the 2009/10 and 2017/18 seasons and have been referred to an independent commission. The commission can impose severe sanctions, which could include fines, points deductions or potential relegation from the Premier League.
According to the Times, the breaches relate to inflation of image rights, contracts and sponsorship deals, with a new revelation – obtained from a leaked UEFA report – showing that City received two £15m payments in 2012 and 2013 from an unnamed UAE figure to cover sums that were supposed to have come from a leading sponsor, the UAE’s majority state-owned telecommunications company Etisalat. It is alleged that the funding in fact came from City’s owners, the Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG).
Under the financial rules, club owners can provide a limited amount of funding, though sponsorship funding is unlimited.
The issue was raised during UEFA’s investigation into City’s financial dealings, in which the governing body issued the club with a two-year ban from European competition in 2019.
The ban was overturned on appeal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) a year later, who ruled the breaches could not be dealt with as they were time-barred. Crucially in the latest charges against City, the Premier League has no time restrictions on rule breaches.