Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City blast ‘false accusations’ as UEFA opens FPP spending probe

Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City insisted the FPP accusations against them are false and that they welcomed the opportunity to clear their name. (AFP)
Updated 08 March 2019

Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City blast ‘false accusations’ as UEFA opens FPP spending probe

  • German magazine Der Spiegel alleged in November that City had set up sponsorship deals to circumvent regulations
  • A statement was released immediately by the club, in which City said they had nothing to hide

LONDON: Manchester City have slammed UEFA for opening an investigation into whether or not the Abu-Dhabi owned club broke Financial Fair Play rules, a breach that could lead to a devastating Champions League ban.
The reigning Premier League champions insisted the accusations against them are false and that they welcomed the opportunity to clear their name.
A statement was released immediately by the club following the UEFA announcement, in which City said they had nothing to hide.
“The accusation of financial irregularities is entirely false.
“Manchester City welcomes the opening of a formal UEFA investigation as an opportunity to bring to an end the speculation resulting from the illegal hacking and out of context publication of City emails,” it said.
“The club’s published accounts are full and complete and a matter of legal and regulatory record.”
The investigation follows allegations from the German magazine Der Spiegel in November that City had set up sponsorship deals to circumvent the regulations limiting how much money owners can put into a club.
The publication used material purportedly obtained from the whistleblowing outlet Football Leaks, which has previously exposed tax evasion methods used by some of the world's biggest football stars.
“The Investigatory Chamber of the independent UEFA Club Financial Control Body has today opened a formal investigation into Manchester City FC for potential breaches of Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations,” the UEFA statement on Thursday.
“The investigation will focus on several alleged violations of FFP that were recently made public in various media outlets.”
City had earlier responded to Der Spiegel’s claims by saying their allegations had been an “organized and clear” attempt to damage the club’s reputation.
A ban from UEFA competitions, including the Champions League, is a potential punishment if City are found guilty of FFP breaches.
In 2014, soon after FFP was introduced, City were fined €60 million ($67.3 million) and subjected to squad, wage and spending caps in a settlement agreed with UEFA following a previous breach of the rules.
City coach Pep Guardiola has always insisted that City would accept a ban but does not believe it is likely after discussions with the club’s UAE owners.
“We will not be banned, no. That’s what I think because I trust in my chairman, and my CEO, and what they have explained to me,” he said.
“If it happens, because UEFA decide that, we will accept it and move forward.”
City are not the only European heavyweights to be caught up in claims of breaking financial fair play rules.
French champions Paris Saint-Germain were forced to deny reports they would have to sell either Kylian Mbappe or Neymar in a bid to circumvent eventual FFP sanctions.
The Qatari-owned club splashed a combined total of more than €400 million in 2017 for Brazil star Neymar and France World Cup winner Mbappe, which raised eyebrows across the footballing world. 
Former European champions AC Milan were warned in December that they risk being excluded from European competition if they fail to “break even.”
Milan had already been banned for a year from the Europa League due to breaching FFP regulations before winning an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) last year.
But UEFA said the former seven-time European champions again face suspension from continental competition in future seasons “should the club not be break-even compliant at 30 June 2021.”


Racing in the streets: Jeddah to host first Saudi F1 Grand Prix

Updated 29 October 2020

Racing in the streets: Jeddah to host first Saudi F1 Grand Prix

  • Kingdom’s inaugural race to take place in city while purpose-built track at Qiddiyah is being completed

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s inaugural Formula 1 Grand Prix next year will take place on the city streets of Jeddah.
The Saudi Grand Prix appears on the provisional F1 calendar for 2021 that has been distributed to race teams. It is expected to be the penultimate race of the 2021 season, which will conclude
with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit.
Jeddah will host the Saudi race while a new purpose-built track at Qiddiyah is completed, which is expected to be in 2023.
It is one of 22 races on a provisional 2021 schedule as F1 plans to return to a calendar as close to normal as possible after this year’s disruption. The first 10 races of the 2020 season were either postponed or cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

HIGHLIGHT

The Saudi Grand Prix is one of 22 races on a provisional 2021 schedule as F1 plans to return to a calendar as close to normal as possible after this year’s

The 2021 season will begin in Melbourne, Australia in mid-March and then goes on to Bahrain. It includes nearly all the races that had been due to be held this year.
That means a return for grands prix in China, Japan and Canada, which had to be cancelled because of the disruptions to international travel caused by COVID-19, as well as the debut of the Vietnamese Grand Prix.
F1 has been in conversations with the relevant national governments and all are said to be in agreement the races can take place, unless the pandemic worsens.
In 2018, Riyadh hosted the first Formula E championship in the Middle East in Diriyah with 23,000 in attendance. The second Formula E championship was held in late 2019.
This year, Saudi Arabia held its first Dakar Rally, a 7,800km race that began in Jeddah and finished in Qiddiyah.