Having qualified comfortably for the Champions League round of 16 and already in the final of the Carabao Cup, City are enjoying another successful season. However, some press reports in the UK suggest that they could be excluded from European competition next season for allegedly circumventing Financial Fair Play regulations. The allegations are linked to Football Leaks, where a series of articles relating to financial transactions have been published on the internet. Whilst the image of football has been tarnished by the Football Leaks revelations, there is no suggestion yet that it will have a knock-on effect on other related industries. For instance, there has been an increase in online players searching for bonus codes, related to EPL betting.
The investigation conducted by Football Leaks concerns possible FFP breaches committed by Manchester City, including the suggestion that owner Sheikh Mansour used his own money to supplement existing deals with sponsors in Abu Dhabi. City have so far refused to comment on the claims, stating that emails cited by Football Leaks were illegally obtained. “We will not be providing any comment on out of context materials purportedly hacked or stolen,” the statement said. “The attempt to damage the club’s reputation is organised and clear.”
City refunded £33m of original FFP fine
City believe that they have already been punished in 2014, when they were fined a total of £49m pounds although £33.4m of that was subsequently returned after meeting UEFA's requirements. The German newspaper Der Spiegel, last month claimed that City manipulated their revenues through their sponsorship with Etihad Airways. The Abu Dhabi state-owned airline holds the naming rights of the stadium and training campus, as well as being the main sponsor of the club.
The airline company paid £67.5m to the club as the primary sponsorship, but the paper alleges that emails between Jorge Chumillas, chief financial officer of the club, and the director Simon Pearce, suggest that £59.9m of that was paid by Abu Dhabi United Group, Sheikh Mansour's private equity company. Etihad, however, strongly reject this claim. “The airline’s financial obligations, associated with the partnership of the club and the broader City Football Group, have always been, and remain, the sole liability and responsibility of Etihad Airways,” the club said in a statement to the Press Association.
Guardiola - City "do things right way"
Manager Pep Guardiola has also refuted the claims. “We want to follow the rules, but I’m a manager, I don’t know what happened,” he said. “All I know is that we are not the only club to spend a lot of money, if you want to achieve another level that is what you have to do. When I was in Spain and Germany you would always hear that Manchester City was just about money, now I am on the inside I know something different. Everyone here is very professional and they try to do things in the right way.”
With the Champions League due to resume again in little over a week, there has been no suggestion from UEFA that any investigation into the club is imminent, let alone punishment. City have been consistent in their stance of not commenting on emails that were obtained illegally, and appear confident that no further sanctions will occur, despite the protestations of certain journalists.
Der Spiegel’s own reputation has come under scrutiny recently after it was revealed that Claas Relotius, one of their senior writers, had fabricated many of the details in stories published by the magazine over the previous seven years. Additionally, Rui Pinto, the man responsible for Football Leaks has been arrested and is facing charges of extortion