The Football Leaks revelations concerning Manchester City’s financial activities, reported by German publication Der Spiegel, has reportedly ‘shocked’ UEFA officials, and the could now face action.
UEFA sources claim that the contents of the documents are so alarming that lawyers at the European authority are working out how and if they might take action against the Premier League Champions.
Earlier this week, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said he expected UEFA to look into any new evidence, and there are suggestions that a Champions League ban could be one possible punishment.
The Daily Mail reports that there are obstacles to any actions to be taken by UEFA. If the documents are legitimate, then the method in which Football Leaks obtained them could hamper any challenge made by UEFA. Any illegality in the procurement of the evidence may make it impossible to use them.
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UEFA are also not permitted to demand the documents from the club or the media organisations, and there is a statute of limitations to be considered. There remain concerns for City, though, as a yearly ‘break even assessment’ is carried out on every club.
Sources suggest that FFP rules could be broken by City if adjustments are made to sponsorship deals that are reported to be funded by current owner Sheikh Mansour.
Deals in include the £400m stadium sponsorship deal from Etihad Airways, which will not expire until 2021, and is one of the arrangements under suspicion following the reports. Der Spiegel allege that Mansour is funding the majority of that deal, and there are other contracts that are similarly organised, as well as separate deals for player marketing rights.
Roberto Mancini was reported to have been paid through City for managing the club, but also earned a similar amount as an adviser to another club owned by Sheikh Mansour, playing in the Arabian Gulf League.
City refused to engage with the reports, saying that the club ‘will not be providing any comment on out of context materials purportedly hacked or stolen from City Football Group and Man City personnel and associated people’.
A statement from City said: ‘The airline’s financial obligations, associated with the partnership of the club and the broader City Football Group, have always been, and remain, the sole liability and responsibility of Etihad Airways.’