By Andrew Warshaw
November 7 – Spanish league chiefs have called on UEFA to punish Paris St Germain and Manchester City following the latest explosive leaked documents about their financial activities.
As Der Spiegel’s revelations over how both clubs allegedly circumvented financial fair play rules continue to reverberate across European football, La Liga officials say they will launch a formal complaint if UEFA – which sanctioned the two clubs in 2014 but has so far been reluctant to intervene over the latest claims – fail to take action.
Documents leaked to Der Spiegel and other media from the Football Leaks’ whistleblowing website purport to show the two clubs had inflated sponsorship revenues to meet FFP requirements. UEFA’s rules are intended, among other things, to prevent exactly that.
La Liga president Javier Tebas has long spoken out against Manchester City and PSG describing their conduct as financial doping and La Liga spokesman Joris Evers told Reuters and the BBC the time for action is needed.
“The Football Leaks documents appear to confirm what we have been saying for years. Both PSG and Manchester City are cheating and should be sanctioned,” said Evers.
“We certainly hope UEFA will take the right decisions and enforce Financial Fair Play rules, but we don’t have full confidence that they will. Should UEFA fail to act, we will do what we have said before: launch a complaint with European Union competition authorities.”
The leaked documents appear to show that tens of millions of pounds that were supposed to have come from City’s sponsors Etihad Airways was paid directly to the club by the owners.
In its latest claims, Der Spiegel says City used “creative solutions” including selling players’ image rights to an external company, therefore writing off that cost from their accounts.
City have not commented on the stream of claims, which are to continue for two more days, beyond referring to a statement they issued last week in which the Abu Dhabi-owned club said it would “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.”
PSG likewise issued a statement on Friday saying it “has always acted in full compliance with the laws.” PSG have already launched an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against UEFA’s re-opened financial fair play investigation.
At stake in the entire debate is whether City and PSG are being up front and honest. UEFA’s rules are designed to encourage clubs to live within their means and prevent fatcat owners, many of them with unlimited funds, from buying their way to success to the detriment of less affluent rivals.
Asked whether this is what City had been doing, manager Pep Guardiola said there was a lot more to it than that.
Defending the Premier League champions as ‘incredibly professional’ in response to allegations they bent financial fair play rules, he added: “Of course, like many, many clubs around the world they have a lot of money, but they are also an incredible club. Incredible people working here, and how professional they are in all the departments.”
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