Manchester City say they are “co-operating in good faith” with an ongoing UEFA investigation into alleged financial fair play (FFP) breaches but are “extremely concerned” over an apparent leak from European football’s governing body.
UEFA launched an investigation into a potential breach of FFP rules in March but the Premier League champions have denied any financial irregularity According to a report in the New York Times, citing “people familiar with the case” UEFA will push for the club to be given at least a one-season ban from the competition, after a meeting at its Swiss headquarters two weeks ago.
City issued a strongly-worded statement on Tuesday with concerns that someone said to be close to the investigation, conducted by the investigatory committee (IC) of the Club Financial Control Body (CFCB), has released information.
“Manchester City FC is fully cooperating in good faith with the CFCB IC’s ongoing investigation,” a club statement to ESPN reads. “In doing so the club is reliant on both the CFCB IC’s independence and commitment to due process; and on UEFA’s commitment of the 7th of March that it ‘… will make no further comment on the matter while the investigation is ongoing.’
“The New York Times report citing ‘people familiar with the case’ is therefore extremely concerning. The implications are that either Manchester City’s good faith in the CFCB IC is misplaced or the CFCB IC process is being misrepresented by individuals intent on damaging the club’s reputation and its commercial interests. Or both.
“Manchester City’s published accounts are full and complete and a matter of legal and regulatory record. The accusation of financial irregularities are entirely false, and comprehensive proof of this fact has been provided to the CFCB IC.”
Allegations were made in German publication Der Spiegel, purportedly obtained by whistleblowers Football Leaks, that City circumvented FFP rules by inflating sponsorship deals.
The club have already been punished for violating FFP, striking an agreement in 2014 that saw them fined rather than banned from the Champions League for inflated sponsorship deals with companies linked to the club or their ownership.
A final conclusion over the current investigations is not likely to be reached before the start of next season’s Champions League. City could also appeal any decision, via the Court of Arbitration for Sport.