There is no justification for deliberately trying to beat the system
There is no justification for Manchester City deliberately trying to beat the Financial Fair Play system
- City have braved storms and delivered lessons in how to run a football club
- But they knew what the new rules of playing in UEFA’s Champions League were
- Leaked emails do not look good for City’s executives and make club look grubby
It can be said without fear of contradiction that Manchester City have braved some storms and delivered some object lessons in how to run a football club across these past 10 years under Abu Dhabi ownership.
Everyone knew they were in a hurry to go places when the oil riches arrived, so selling clubs held them to ransom. Big-name players strung them along, playing them for a better contract elsewhere, and then stopped answering their calls.
The football aristocracy sneered at them and called them arrivistes. City quietly went about doing things better and smarter. They built the best training ground, best academy, best player acquisition system. They hired the best manager. Nobody’s laughing now.
Manchester City have braved storms and delivered lessons in how to run a football club
But their push for a place among the elite coincided with a concerted attempt to deal with the monumental debts that clubs were running up — spending to the hilt to win before crashing when an owner lost interest.
People invested in some of the best European sides in the knowledge that things would be different now.
John W Henry said after he bought Liverpool that UEFA’s Financial Fair Play offered a level playing field for those who lack ‘Sheik’ in front of their names.
The timing might have been bad for City but they knew what the new rules of playing in UEFA’s Champions League were.
Their multitude of good works, also including the regeneration of east Manchester, did not justify deliberately seeking to beat the system — artificially inflating income to avoid an FFP breach.
In the Football Leaks cache we see City’s chief executive Ferran Soriano suggesting they raise the necessary extra cash by getting sponsors to pay bonuses for winning the FA Cup in 2013, even though City had lost to Wigan.
But the likes of chief executive Ferran Soriano (right) knew what the financial rules were
That, of course, was the defeat which saw Roberto Mancini out of the door, presenting the not inconsiderable £9.9million pay-off, which would blow another hole in their attempts to pass the Fair Play test.
Executive Simon Pearce suggestsed ‘an additional amount of AD (Abu Dhabi) sponsorship revenues that covers this gap.’
The most damaging documents reveal precisely how and to what extent sponsorship deals were artificially inflated, as Abu Dhabu companies and entities became vessels for more Sheik Mansour money to pour in. A document headed with the City livery is evidence of a £1.5bn investment by Mansour to the end of 2014-15 — vastly more than previously thought.
Sheikh Mansour (centre) is accused of picking up the tab for inflated sponsorship deals
City were found in breach anyway and did not appeal. Their fans characterise UEFA as the reactionary football establishment, denying a newcomer a place at football’s high altar.
Yet the seven people appointed to oversee FFP were also intelligent, committed people devoted to the sport and its sustainability.
They included Jean-Luc Dehaene, former prime minister of Belgium, who saw that country out of financial crisis and helped maintain political stability during the nation’s greatest trials.
Dehaene died the day before an FFP settlement had been reached with City. According to one of the leaked documents, City lawyer Simon Cliff, learning of the death, allegedly emailed a colleague to joke: ‘One down, six to go.’ This just doesn’t look good. It’s grubby.
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