New evidence has emerged of Manchester City’s apparent Financial Fair Play breaches, amid the ongoing Premier League investigation into the club.
The current Premier League champions remain in hot water regarding the club’s financial dealings over the last decade, with a series of ‘leaked’ emails from German media outlet, Der Spiegel triggering a number of investigations.
The leaks – acquired by Rui Pinto in 2018 – appeared to show that the club’s Eithad sponsorship had been heavily subsidised by owner Sheikh Mansour, a breach of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.
The club were initially found guilty by UEFA of over-inflating the value of their sponsorships, leaving them facing with a potential two-year Champions League ban, only for the ruling to be ultimately overturned last year after being taken to the court of arbitration for sport (CAS) after the allegations were deemed ‘time barred’.
While UEFA’s disciplinary process is over, the Premier League are still conducting their own investigation, with a court this week rejecting City’s appeal as they looked to prevent documents being released.
Following that ruling, the Mail on Sunday are reporting on a new set of emails which appear to show that the club did in fact artificially inflate the value of their sponsorship deal to get around FFP rules.
The report outlines how in the 2010/11 season, the club invoiced Etihad £12m for their shirt sponsorship deal, only to then inform the sponsors that they were only required to pay £4m that year.
The email from an unnamed former club employee says: “There seems to be some confusion about an outstanding balance of the sponsorship fee for the 2010/11 season
“Etihad’s commitment is for £4million and the remaining balance (£8m) is handled separately by the [UAE] Executive Affairs Authority.”
Those claims of ‘disguised funding’ look to back up a previously leaked email, again from Der Spiegel, from 2020 in which non-executive director Simon Pearce appears to be admitting that the club’s owners had funded part of the Etihad sponsorship deal.
In an email to Etihad chief operating office Peter Baumgartner, Pearce states: “(City) should be receiving £99m — of which you [Etihad] will provide £8m”.
As per the Mail on Sunday report, City could face potential ramifications should these latest emails confirm any wrongdoing, with the Premier League currently investigating the club’s possible breach of FFP.
If City continue to deny the allegations and the Premier League ultimately has ‘insufficient evidence’, then the governing body may only be able to sanction them for their non-compliance.
Alternatively, their handing over of documents could either prove their innocence or indeed their wrongdoing which could see them either exonerated or punished.
The Premier League could also seek information from other sources should City continue to fail to cooperate, with the Mail also reporting Rui Pinto is to set to ‘help’ the league with its enquiries.
Speaking in his closing remarks at this weeks court case, Lord Justice Miles insisted that the case was a ‘matter of legitimate public concern’ despite City’s attempts to keep the details out of the public eye.
“The club has been anxious to emphasise before us that ‘the arbitral proceedings relate to an ongoing and confidential investigatory and disciplinary process which is still in its early stages’, and that it may be that no charges will ever be brought against it,” he said.
“While that may be true, it seems to me that this is, if anything, a factor which tells in favour of publication. This is an investigation which commenced in December 2018.
“It is surprising, and a matter of legitimate public concern, that so little progress has been made after two and a half years — during which, it may be noted, the club has twice been crowned as Premier League champions.”