Man City Could Face CL Ban For Alleged FFP Violations
Man City could face a ban from next season’s Champions League over "alleged deceptions" of UEFA's financial rules revealed in the Football Leaks scandal, according to Tom Morgan of the London TELEGRAPH. European football’s governing body "believes a potential transfer embargo is not a sufficient punishment" for the defending Premier League champion if an independent inquiry into FFP "rules against the club in the coming days." Senior UEFA officials -- who previously launched sanctions against Man City in '14 -- are "particularly enraged" by leaked files from '15, which claim almost £60M was paid directly into the club by its billionaire Arab owners "but declared as sponsorship." UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin "appeared to indicate" the allegations of FFP breaches were a "concrete case." The documents, allegedly obtained by illegal email hacks, are said to show £59.5M that was supposed to have come from Man City’s principal sponsor, Etihad Airways -- which sponsors the club’s stadium, shirts and training ground -- was "paid directly to the club by the Abu Dhabi United Group." Ceferin said, "We are assessing the situation. We have an independent body working on it. Very soon we will have the answers on what will happen in this concrete case" (TELEGRAPH, 12/3). In London, Paul MacInnes reported Man City "issued a consistent response to all claims" made by Football Leaks and Der Spiegel: "We will not be providing any comment on out-of-context materials purportedly 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" (GUARDIAN, 12/4).
HIGH STAKES: In London, Martyn Ziegler reported sources with knowledge of the investigation said that the leaks "had put the credibility of the whole system on the line," which means that "tough action is almost certain to follow." Paris St. Germain has also been implicated by the leaks but the case against Man City "looks more serious." The club is "unlikely to take any charge or sanction lying down and may make a legal challenge" against UEFA's use of the FFP system. The leaks have, however, "been a huge embarrassment for the club" (LONDON TIMES, 12/4).