The six-times Premier League champions have been accused of failing to give “a true and fair view of the club’s financial position”, of failing to “include full details” of player and manager remuneration, of failing to comply with rules regarding financial fair play and failing to co-operate in a Premier League investigation that has concluded after more than four years.
Documents disclosed as part of the ‘Football Leaks’ hack appeared to show that City had inflated the value of sponsorship deals from Abu Dhabi companies, and channeled money from the Gulf state to the club. Documents also suggested that the City manager Roberto Mancini had been in receipt of a second, secret, salary during his time at the club.
City have always vociferously denied any wrongdoing. They previously described the Football Leaks revelations as a “clear and organised” attempt to damage the club’s reputation.
The charges will send shockwaves throughout the world of sport. City have reshaped football since they were taken over a private equity group controlled by the royal family of Abu Dhabi in 2008. The value of their squad is estimated to be more than£1bn and the club sits at the heart of a global network of 12 football teams.
The financial charges brought against Manchester City cover the period 2009-2018, and those requiring a club to “cooperate with, and assist, the Premier League in its investigations” extend from 2018 to this season. The charges will be heard by an independent commission, to be appointed by the chair of the Premier League judicial panel, Murray Rosen KC.
City were banned from the Champions League by Uefa in February 2020 after being found to have broken the financial rules of the competition and misled the European governing body, only for the ban to be overturned on appeal by the court of arbitration for sport.
On the central finding that City’s Abu Dhabi ownership had disguised its own funding as independent sponsorship by the state’s commercial companies, Cas found: “Most of the alleged breaches were either not established or time-barred.”
Former UEFA investigator Yves Leterme: “We had hard evidence against City. I’m convinced they committed fraud. Sponsor money was paid by the owner. They used an army of lawyers to obstruct us. The current PL investigation is broader than ours was.”
Manchester City players are already considering leaving the club should they be handed an expulsion from the Premier League.
If City are found guilty, they could face a points deduction, and possibly even expulsion from the Premier League, which would almost certainly see them lose several of their star names.
There’s already speculation that Man City’s plans to sign Jude Bellingham this summer look to be in jeopardy, and we’ve also taken a look at five names who would surely be heading for the Etihad Stadium door.
Players like Erling Haaland, Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and Ruben Dias are already being linked with moves away from the Etihad.