Pep Guardiola ‘signed Manchester City contract FOUR MONTHS before deal was announced’ – despite repeated denials – after he agreed to quit Bayern Munich eight months before actually departing
- Pep Guardiola allegedly signed his Manchester City contract in October 2015
- Der Spiegel claim he was only two months into his final Bayern season at time
- Manchester City are alleged to have asked media to remove stories on Guardiola
- City are subject to a huge four-part expose by Football Leaks whistleblowers
Pep Guardiola secretly signed his first contract with Manchester City FOUR months before the official deal was announced, a new report alleges.
In the third of a four-part expose on City by the Football Leaks whistle-blowers, the report in Der Spiegel explains the exact date Guardiola agreed his move.
It is claimed that Guardiola had already secured a deal with City just two months into his final season with Barcelona, signing a contract on October 10, 2015.
Pep Guardiola pictured in October 2015, days after he allegedly signed a secret City contract
Manuel Pellegrini managed City until the end of June, knowing that Guardiola was taking over
The documents, allegedly obtained by Der Spiegel, say the Spaniard was guaranteed a payment of £13.5million in his first season with City, and £16.75m in the second.
The announcement was then made public on February 1, with then-boss Manuel Pellegrini revealing he would leave the club when his contract expired on June 30, but intriguingly City had previously batted away claims the deal was done.
Several weeks after the deal was signed, it was reported in the Sunday Mirror that the club’s director of football Txiki Begiristain had met Guardiola in Barcelona, with talks over a potential deal progressing.
A report claims that he was paid £13.5m in his first season with City, and £16.75m in the second
WHAT IS FINANCIAL FAIR PLAY?
Financial Fair Play was approved by UEFA in 2010 and first brought into play in 2011. It ensures that clubs who have qualified for UEFA competitions must prove they do not have overdue payables towards other clubs, their players and tax authorities throughout the season.
In short, clubs can spend up to €5m (£3.9m) more than they earn per assessment period, although total losses of £35m are permitted for clubs like City with the wealthiest of owners.
Assessments are now made over a three-year period. In 2014-15, losses were still be limited to £35m. In 2015-16, the limit dropped to £25.5m. The pattern was then repeated in 2016-17 and 2017-18.
Money spent on stadiums, training facilities, youth development or community projects is exempt, but clubs must balance ‘football-related expenditure’ – things like transfers and wages – with television and ticket income.
All of this is overseen by The Club Financial Control Body (CFCB), which was set up by UEFA.
Der Spiegel claim that, although the story was untrue because Guardiola’s contract was already signed, City were desperate to quell the speculation and moved to get the story removed.
In an allegedly leaked email between club officials, it is claimed team spokesman Simon Heggie wrote: ‘I’ll call him and tell him we want it removed,’ before later noting: ‘I’ll send a note around to other media to tell them to ignore it.’
It is claimed that City were keen to control the announcement of their new boss, deciding exactly when to reveal Guardiola without the media taking over.
The latest allegations against Manchester City are the third part of a four-day expose by the Football Leaks whistle-blowers, in the pages of German paper Der Spiegel.
The investigation began on Monday with allegedly hacked documents which claimed owner Sheik Mansour paid large chunks of sponsor deals himself so the club could avoid significant Financial Fair Play penalties.
In one agreement with Etihad Airways, it is claimed a staggering £59.5million of the £67.5m was essentially financed by Mansour. The revelations could lead to sanctions from UEFA and the Premier League. Neither would comment when asked earlier this week and there is concern about the method by which the documents were obtained.
It is alleged that Sheik Mansour paid a third party in a bid to save expenditure on image rights
WHY ‘PROJECT LONGBOW’?
Manchester City’s creative name for their alleged secret project is explained within the second day of Der Spiegel’s report.
It is alleged that the club’s chief legal adviser Simon Cliff explained in an internal email that the longbow was the weapon used by the English when they beat the French at Crecy in 1346 and Agincourt in 1415.
Manchester City’s ‘enemy’, as written in the Football Leaks report, was French UEFA president Michel Platini and his signature project – Financial Fair Play.
It is claimed that the name ‘Project Longbow’ was then widely used by club employees over several years as the club fought against FFP.
There is no indication that ‘Project Longbow’ is illegal.
If they conclude that the emails have been obtained illegally, City — who were sanctioned in 2014 for a breach of FFP rules — could face no further action.
City reiterated earlier this week that they ‘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’.
Day two of the investigation divulged details on an alleged secret project called ‘Longbow’, created to shift the cost of player image rights to a third-party.
Football clubs are obliged to pay their athletes for the right to use their image, be it in posters in the club shop or advertising for new shirts, but it is alleged that Manchester City farmed out the rights in a bid to save spending costs.
It is claimed that a marketing company called ‘Fordham Sports Management’, allegedly steered by Jonathan Rowland and his father David, bought the image rights, but were secretly fed £11million a year by Man City’s owner Sheik Mansour.
Sheik Mansour (centre) is also accused of picking up the tab for inflated sponsorship deals
City won the league in 2012, but new claims purport to shed light on the club’s financial affairs
It has been reported, therefore, that the deal was in fact a ‘closed payment loop’, in which Mansour’s holding company Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG) transferred money to the Rowlands for the purchase of the image rights of their players, which then allowed Manchester City to hide the expenditure.
When Sportsmail called Blackfish Capital, the Rowlands’ private investment firm, a request for comment was declined. There is no indication that ‘Project Longbow’ is illegal.
In an unrelated set of allegedly leaked emails, it is also claimed that Manchester City CEO Ferran Soriano was aware of the scrutiny that the club could be under in their fight against Financial Fair Play.
In memos claimed to have been seen by Football Leaks whistle-blowers, they say Soriano – reporting back to club executives after a meeting of the European Club Association (ECA) – wrote in 2012: ‘They are all pushing for FFP in a way that would ashame (sic) any industry association.
‘We will need to fight this [FFP regulations] and do it in a way that is not visible, or we will be pointed out as the global enemies of football.’
WHO ARE THE ALLEGED KEY PLAYERS?
Sheik Mansour (Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan): Owner of City Football Group, which consists of Manchester City, Melbourne City and New York City Football Clubs. A member of the royal family of Abu Dhabi, he is current Deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and also Minister of Presidential Affairs.
Khaldoon Al Mubarak: Chairman of City Football Group, and also the chief executive officer and managing director of Mubadala Development Company. He was first appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors by Mansour after his takeover in September 2008, before becoming the chairman in 2013.
Ferran Soriano: First delved into the world of football with his boyhood club Barcelona, first as Economy Vice President and then interim CEO while Pep Guardiola was the manager. In September 2012, he was appointed CEO of Manchester City and in 2014 added the CEO roles of New York City and Melbourne City to his job-list.
Simon Pearce: A member of the City Football Group board, the Australian is widely considered to be one of the UAE’s most influential officials and is a close ally of Khaldoon. He was appointed to the board when Mansour’s takeover was completed in 2008, and is credited by the WSJ as helping ‘smooth’ the process.
The Rowlands: Jonathan Rowland and his father David (pictured right at the wedding of Princess Eugenie) are the experts the club allegedly brought in. David was in the news previously when he donated millions to the Conservative Party, before being appointed treasurer, a post he never actually took up. In the late 1980s, he also helped fund a takeover of ‘Edinburgh Hibernian’, parent of Hibs Football Club. The deal then turned sour when the company went into receivership, and he was attacked in the Commons and labelled a ‘shady financier’.
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