Spanish soccer’s LaLiga has filed another complaint against England’s Manchester City and France’s Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) claiming the clubs are continuing to violate financial fair play (FFP) rules.
The complaints have been lodged with European soccer’s governing body UEFA, although LaLiga will take further legal action in the EU, France, and Switzerland.
The Spanish top-flight has filed several complaints against the two teams regarding FFP violations in recent years, with its latest against Premier League champions Manchester City coming in April and against Ligue 1 champions PSG last week.
LaLiga stated it “cannot be ruled out that in the coming days any of these complaints will be broadened with the addition of new information”.
In addition, the league has hired law firms in France and Switzerland with the aim of “taking administrative and legal action before the relevant bodies in France and the European Union as soon as possible”.
In Switzerland, LaLiga is looking into different representation options due to possible conflicts of interest for PSG president Nasser Al Khelaïfi arising from his various roles at the team, UEFA, the European Club Association (ECA), the body that represents over 240 soccer teams across the continent, and international pay-TV broadcaster BeIN Sports.
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A statement issued by LaLiga today read: “LaLiga considers that these practices [FFP breaches] alter the ecosystem and sustainability of football, harm all European clubs and leagues, and only serve to artificially inflate the market, with money not generated within football itself.
“LaLiga understands that the irregular financing of these clubs is carried out either through direct injections of money or through sponsorship and other contracts that do not correspond to market conditions and do not make economic sense.”
UEFA handed City a two-year ban from European competitions in February 2020 for breaching FFP rules but the ban was overturned on appeal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in July of that year.
The original probe, based on claims made in a report by German magazine Der Spiegel in 2018, asserted that City were responsible for “serious breaches” of the UEFA FFP rules for “overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016.”
Notably, City were found guilty by UEFA 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.
In 2019, PSG also won a CAS legal battle against UEFA over FFP.
UEFA’s investigators had tried to reopen a previously closed investigation into the club under FFP rules after PSG’s 2017 accounts were initially declared to be compliant with the rules. However, the court said that UEFA had missed the deadline to challenge its own decision.
Under its Qatari owners, PSG had also been suspected of using overvalued sponsorship deals to breach FFP rules.
Notably, that PSG investigation was separate from one relating to the 2017-18 season when the club signed star players Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
LaLiga also previously submitted complaints against the ‘state-owned’ clubs in 2017 and 2018 that resulted in the UEFA sanctions and described the CAS rulings to overturn them as “bizarre”.
The Spanish league’s latest gripe comes off the back of City’s recent big-money signing of Norwegian star Erling Haaland and PSG’s successful retention of French international Mbappe after offering him a lucrative new contract.
LaLiga claims its “allegations, as well as the recent statements made by the Spanish clubs' association in this regard, are based on data, plus detailed monitoring and analysis of the audited accounts of the two clubs”.