By Andrew Warshaw
February 19 – Five days after the club were sensationally banned from Europe for two seasons by UEFA, Manchester City’s chief executive has denounced allegations of financial fair play “serious breaches” as totally untrue and politically motivated.
Ferran Soriano (pictured) has rubbished UEFA’s claim the club failed to co-operate with its investigation as he launched a bullish defence of City’s conduct throughout the process.
In banning City last week, the Adjudicatory Chamber of UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) claim the English Premier League champion were guilty of “overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016” and added that the club “failed to cooperate in the investigation”.
The Abu Dhabi-owned club have denied any wrongdoing and say they intend to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and could go even further if necessary.
In an in-house interview on the club’s website, Soriano addressed the ban for the first time.
“The fans can be sure of two things. The first one is that the allegations are false,” he said. “And the second is that we will do everything that can be done to prove so.”
“The owner has not put money in this club that has not been properly declared. We are a sustainable football club, we are profitable, we don’t have debt, our accounts have been scrutinised many times, by auditors, by regulators, by investors and this is perfectly clear.”
Soriano claimed City were “considered guilty before anything was even discussed” on “every step of the way”.
“We did cooperate with this process. We delivered a long list of documents and support that we believe is irrefutable evidence that the claims are not true.”
UEFA launched its investigation after German publication Der Spiegel published leaked documents in November 2018 alleging inflated sponsorship deals, thereby misleading European football’s governing body.
Untrue, said Soriano. “We provided the evidence but in the end this FFP Investigatory Chamber relied more on out-of-context stolen emails than all the other evidence we provided of what actually happened and I think it is normal that we feel like we feel.
“Ultimately based on our experience and our perception this seems to be less about justice and more about politics.”
Soriano said he hoped the entire process could be cleared up by the summer so that City, who seems almost certainly to qualify for next year’s Champions League, can carry on as normal next season though that could be wishful thinking given the complexity of the allegations and the time the appeals procedure might take.
“We are looking for an early resolution obviously through a thorough process and a fair process so my best hope is that this will be finished before the beginning of the summer and until then for us, it is business as usual.”
“All we are looking for is a proper adjudication in an independent and impartial body that is going to take the time to look at all the evidence and look at it without preconception.”
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