Rival football clubs have called for an investigation of Manchester City after a German newspaper published reports that the club has manipulated contracts in order to flaunt UEFA’s financial fair play laws.
Der Spiegel claims to have access to leaked documents that show that City owner Sheikh Mansour extended club sponsorship deals with his own funds in order to cover earnings shortfalls and avoid punishment from European football’s governing body.
Mansour has been accused of directly paying £59.5m of Abu Dhabi-based airline Etihad’s annual £67.5m sponsorship, and the German publication also claimed that sponsors Etihad, Aabar and the Abu Dhabi tourism authority all paid more than had been agreed at the start of the 2012-13 season.
Der Spiegel reported that an internal email form the club’s chief financial officer Jorge Chumillas said: “We will have a shortfall of £9.9m in order to comply with Uefa FFP this season. The deficit is due to RM (Roberto Mancini) termination. I think that the only solution left would be an additional amount of AD sponsorship revenues that covers this gap.”
Mancini was sacked by City in 2013 after the club failed to defend their Premier League title and lost the FA Cup final to Wigan Athletic.
Sponsors had agreed to pay the club an increased amount in the event that the club won the FA Cup, but the defeat left them with a shortfall which was allegedly wiped away by Mansour.
Manchester City is also alleged to have used a shell company to pay for players image rights with money supplied directly by the Premier League champions’ Abu Dhabi based owners, saving the club millions.
Joris Evers, chief communications officer of Spain’s La Liga, told The Times that Der Spiegel’s reports validated past accusations against Manchester City and called on UEFA to take action against the Premier League champions and Paris Saint-Germain, who have also been accused of breaking FFP rules.
PSG were fined and restricted 21-man squad in European competition for a season in 2014 and UEFA reopened a case against the club in September after the French club was cleared of wrongdoing in June.
City was also adjudged to have breached FFP rules in 2014 and paid a £49m fine, £32m of which was suspended, while their Champions League squad was reduced for 2014-15.
A statement released by Manchester city said: “We will not be providing any comment on out of context materials purported to have been hacked or stolen from City Football Group and Manchester City personnel and associated people. The attempt to damage the club’s reputation is organised and clear.”
UEFA responded to enquiries by stating that it could not comment on individual cases.