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.”


Riyadh route revealed for inaugural Saudi Tour cycling event

Updated 24 January 2020

Riyadh route revealed for inaugural Saudi Tour cycling event

  • The race, will begin at the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee headquarters on Feb. 4 and end on Feb. 8 at Al-Masmak Fort

RIYADH: The Saudi Cycling Federation on Thursday revealed the full route for next month’s inaugural Saudi Tour event in Riyadh.

The 755 kilometer race, which is split into five daily stages, will begin at the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee headquarters on Feb. 4 and end on Feb. 8 at Al-Masmak Fort. Along the way, the competitors will pass many Riyadh landmarks, including Sadus Castle, Wadi Namar Park and Al-Bujairi historical district.

Eighteen teams from 13 countries will compete, and the riders include Mark Cavendish from the UK, Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni and Dutch cyclist Niki Terpstra.

Subah Al-Kraidees, chairman of the Saudi Cycling Federation, said he is delighted that the Kingdom is hosting a major Union Cycliste Internationale cycling event for the first time.

“I am so proud that the Saudi Cycling Federation is able to see one of its dreams realized with this event, and to have Saudi Arabia recognized as an important station in the international biking scene,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for Saudi athletes to rub shoulders with international bikers, and to see what they have achieved and learn from their experiences.”

The Saudi Tour will be broadcast worldwide by 25 TV networks, six of whom will also live stream the event.

Three other events will take place on the sidelines of the main race: a public bike ride from noon to 12:45 p.m. on Feb. 6, a junior race on the same day from 1 p.m. to 2.40 p.m., and a women’s ride from 12.30 p.m. to 1.30 p.m. on Feb. 8.

You can find more details of the event and broadcast schedules, and track the teams and their race times, at www.thesauditour.com.