Manchester City has released a statement defending its conduct after stories emerged suggesting the club could be hit with a one-season ban from European competitions for misleading regulators over its financial affairs.
The statement addresses allegations, first reported in the New York Times on Monday, that Uefa’s Club Financial Control Body Investigatory Chamber (CFCB IC) met in Nyon two weeks ago to discuss the club’s case and is expected to recommend the ban for breaching Uefa’s financial fair play rules (FFP).
“Manchester City FC is fully cooperating in good faith with the CFCB IC’s ongoing investigation,” the statement said. “In doing so the Club is reliant on both the CFCB IC’s independence and commitment to due process; and on UEFA’s commitment of the 7th of March that it…will make no further comment on the matter while the investigation is ongoing.
“The New York Times report citing “people familiar with the case” is therefore extremely concerning. The implications are that either Manchester City’s good faith in the CFCB IC is misplaced or the CFCB IC process is being misrepresented by individuals intent on damaging the Club’s reputation and its commercial interests. Or both.”
Uefa opened a formal investigation into City in March after a report in German magazine Der Spiegel, based on documents obtained by the Football Leaks website, claimed that City had been disguising huge investment from its owner, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, as sponsorship deals through various UAE-based companies.
One email exchange seen by Der Spiegel appeared to imply that while the total value of the Etihad airline’s sponsorship of City had reached £67.5m (€77.8m/$87.4m), only £8m of this had actually been contributed by the airline, with Abu Dhabi United Group – Sheikh Mansour’s holding company – topping the sponsorship up by almost £60m over the course of six years.
Manchester City has released two statements in response to the announcement of the Uefa investigation. In March the club said it welcomed the opportunity to clear its name.
The latest statement concluded: “Manchester City’s published accounts are full and complete and a matter of legal and regulatory record. The accusation of financial irregularities are entirely false, and comprehensive proof of this fact has been provided to the CFCB IC.”