LONDON — European soccer’s leadership has an initial conclusion on leaked Manchester City correspondence: The club has been misleading UEFA over its finances.
With the power to ban clubs from the Champions League, the consequences from UEFA could be severe for the Premier League champions.
UEFA discovered from reading internal emails from City, which were published by German media outlet Der Spiegel last month, the extent of schemes by the club to allegedly cover up the true source of income in a bid to comply with Financial Fair Play regulations, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the situation publicly while UEFA conducts a review of the City case.
City has been transformed into an English soccer power in the decade since being bought by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and a member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family, winning the Premier League three times since 2012.
But unfettered spending on players has been restricted by European soccer’s governing body — regardless of the owners’ wealth.
City has already been punished by UEFA for violating FFP, striking an agreement in 2014 that saw the team fined rather than banned from the Champions League for inflated sponsorship deals with companies linked to the club or its ownership.
UEFA publicly said last month that evidence from “Football Leaks” could lead to past cases being reopened. The person with knowledge of the situation said it was more feasible to use the leaks to reassess the candor of club executives and as a basis to judge City’s compliance with FFP in the current three-year assessment period.