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26th Mar 2024

Man City’s sponsors considering major decision that could affect FFP investigation

Callum Boyle

Man City

It could have a huge say in how the investigation goes

Manchester City’s sponsors are considering making a decision that could impact the entirety of their ongoing Premier League investigation.

The Treble winners were charged with 115 breaches of the Premier League’s financial rules in February 2023, with the majority of those relating to sponsorship deals.

Of the many charges they’ve been accused of, overstating the value of sponsorship deals is one of the most common, with many of the funds from those deals allegedly coming directly from club owners Abu Dhabi United Group.

But in fresh developments German publication Der Spiegel claimed leaked emails reveal that main sponsor Etihad Airways were only paying £8m of their official £67.5m obligation to City from the 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2015-16 seasons. The rest of the funds being provided by the owners.

If the allegations are true it would be a serious breach of Premier League and UEFA financial rules and suggest fraudulent activity between executives at City and the airline.

Man City have denied the allegations and “welcome the review of this matter by an independent commission”, adding that they “look forward to this matter being put to rest once and for all”.

City sponsors consider major decision

Further reports now claim that Etihad are reportedly in discussion with banks about potentially going public on the stock exchange – a move that could affect the outcome of the ongoing investigation.

Etihad are reportedly preparing an initial Public Offering (IPO), a process of opening up their account for all to see before going on the stock exchange.

One investment banking expert told The Mirror that it’s highly unlikely that Eithad would allow such access if it ran the risk of tampered sponsorship deals. That could eventually amount to fraud and would almost certainly affect any deals with future investors.

A source said: “The accusation is that City executives have colluded with officials from Etihad and have lied not only to the club’s independent auditors but to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“By extension, that also calls into question what information was disclosed by City’s owners to Silverlake before the American private equity firm bought a significant stake in the club in 2019.

“That’s why the Premier League’s allegations go way beyond accusing City of failing to meet Profit and Sustainability Rule.”

An independent panel is expected to hear Man City’s case later on this year.

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