Manchester City maintain innocence but 'not surprised' by Uefa referral over FFP
Manchester City, the champions of English soccer’s top-tier Premier League, are “disappointed, but regrettably not surprised” to have been referred to Uefa’s Club Financial Control Body adjudicatory chamber today over financial irregularities, which could result in a ban from the Champions League, the top European club competition.
The referral was made by Ives Leterme, the chairman of the investigatory arm and the former prime minister of Belgium, and was announced by European soccer's governing body today, but Manchester City continue to deny any wrongdoing.
In a strongly-worded statement, the club said it remains confident of escaping without any punishment as it claims the decision “contains mistakes, misinterpretations and confusions fundamentally borne out of a basic lack of due process.”
The club's full statement read: “Manchester City Football Club is disappointed, but regrettably not surprised, by the sudden announcement of the referral to be made by the CFCB IC Chief Investigator Yves Leterme. The leaks to media over the last week are indicative of the process that has been overseen by Mr. Leterme.
“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.”
Reports emerged earlier this week that members of the investigatory chamber of Uefa’s CFCB had recommended a one-year Champions League ban for the club if a violation of the financial fair play rules is proven.
Despite Leterme choosing to refer the club to the adjudicatory chamber, it remains unclear if he supports a ban.
However, if a ban is handed down to Manchester City, it is unlikely to apply for next season’s Champions League campaign as the club will be able to appeal the decision and even take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, if necessary.
In a statement of its own released today, Uefa said: “The CFCB chief investigator, after having consulted with the other members of the independent investigatory chamber of the CFCB, has today decided to refer Manchester City FC to the CFCB adjudicatory chamber following the conclusion of his investigation.
“The CFCB investigatory chamber had opened an investigation into Manchester City FC on 7 March 2019 for potential breaches of Financial Fair Play regulations that were made public in various media outlets. Uefa will not be making any further comment on the matter until a decision is announced by the CFCB adjudicatory chamber.”
Uefa’s probe is based on claims made in a report by German magazine Der Spiegel late last year, which cited leaked documents obtained by the Football Leaks website.
Manchester City, which clinched a second successive Premier League title on Sunday, have been accused of overinflating the value of their main sponsorship deal with Etihad, the Abu Dhabi-based airline, in 2012-13 and 2013-14 to cover up extra investment from the club’s owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, a member of the emirate’s royal family.
The club dismissed the accusation earlier this week, describing it as “entirely false”.
In 2014, Manchester City accepted a £49-million ($63.3-million) fine for breaching FFP rules, £32 million of which was suspended, and their Champions League squad was reduced for the 2014-15 season.
However, Der Spiegel claimed that Manchester City and its sponsors manipulated contracts to wipe out a £9.9-million shortfall in 2013 and avoid further FFP sanctions.
Sheikh Mansour’s Abu Dhabi United Group completed its takeover of the club in 2008, and Etihad has been a sponsor since May 2009 in a deal that covers the team’s shirts, stadium and academy.
• Manchester City’s local rivals Manchester United today announced revenues of £152.1 million for the third quarter of their financial year, an increase of 3.4 per cent from the previous year’s figure of £147.1 million.
In the three months to 31 March 2019, the club also posted an increase in broadcasting revenue, up 8.9 per cent to £53.8 million, and matchday income, which rose 1.9 per cent to £31.7 million.
The rise in the broadcasting figure was attributed to the new Uefa Champions League broadcasting rights agreement and an additional Premier League fixture in the period.
In 2017, BT Sport, the UK pay-TV broadcaster, agreed to a 32-per-cent increase in fees to retain the Uefa Champions League rights until 2021.
From the start of this season through to 2020-21, BT is paying £1.18 billion, or £394 million per season.
Manchester United’s commercial revenue for the period was unchanged at £66.6 million, with sponsorship revenue remaining flat at £41.6 million.
In the third quarter, the club signed new sponsorship deals with the Marriott International hotels chain and Maui Jim, the Hawaii-based eyewear brand.
On the field, United endured a disappointing year, as they finished the campaign in sixth, missing out on the Champions League for next season.
For the 2018-19 financial year, United continue to expect total revenue of between £615 million and £630 million, and adjusted Ebitda of £175 million to £190 million.