Manchester City slams Uefa referral over FFP

Manchester City has today (Thursday) hit out at what it claims is a “wholly unsatisfactory, curtailed, and hostile process” after European football’s governing body Uefa confirmed that it will refer the English Premier League champion to the adjudicatory chamber of its Club Financial Control Body.

Today’s news comes after US newspaper the New York Times reported earlier this week that City will be hit with a ban from the Champions League following the conclusion of an investigation into allegations that the English Premier League champion misled regulators over its financial affairs.

Uefa today said that CFCB chief investigator, former Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme, having consulted with the other members of the investigatory chamber of the CFCB, has decided to refer City to the CFCB adjudicatory chamber following the conclusion of his investigation.

The CFCB investigatory chamber had opened an investigation into City on March 7 for potential breaches of Financial Fair Play regulations that were made public in various media outlets.

The Times had reported that at least a one-season ban from European competition is expected to be recommended. The FFP accusations emerged late last year when 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.

In a strongly-worded statement, City today said it was “disappointed, but regrettably not surprised”, by Uefa’s announcement, adding that “leaks to media” over the last week are “indicative” of the process overseen by Leterme.

The statement continued: “Manchester City is entirely confident of a positive outcome when the matter is considered by an independent judicial body. The accusation of financial irregularities remains entirely false and the CFCB IC referral ignores a comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence provided by Manchester City FC to the Chamber.

“The decision contains mistakes, misinterpretations and confusions fundamentally borne out of a basic lack of due process and there remain significant unresolved matters raised by Manchester City FC as part of what the club has found to be a wholly unsatisfactory, curtailed, and hostile process.”

City has a long history with Uefa when it comes to FFP. In April 2017, Uefa cleared City and French Ligue 1 champion Paris Saint-Germain of further punishment over the breach of FFP regulations in 2014.

Uefa said both City and PSG had complied with sanctions placed upon them and were able to operate under standard regulations. City and PSG were amongst the first teams to be sanctioned under FFP, which was introduced by Uefa in an effort to stop teams from overspending.