The big news came through that Manchester City have been banned from european competitions for seasons 2020/21 and 2021/22 and fined £24.9 million after being found to have committed “serious breaches” of financial regulations. This was hardly a surprise as it has been well know there had been issues regarding financial fair play rules at the Etihad, but the news still packs a punch.
UEFA say that the club overstated its sponsorship revenue in its accounts submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016 and also accuse Manchester City of failing to cooperate with the investigation. So when did UEFA become aware of these “serious breaches”?
In November 2018 a german magazine called Der Speigel got hold of data from a hacker from Portugal called Rui Pinto, who had been supplying the magazine with confidential documents out of the world of football since 2016. Der Speigel shared that information with its partners through a journalist network and some 800 investigative articles have resulted.
Pinto who is now in prison hacked into the servers of clubs like Sporting Lisbon, Benfica and Porto in Portugal but also huge clubs like Manchester City and PSG. The information gathered alerted UEFA to the possibility of Manchester City breaking financial fair play rules. The rules basically say that you can only spend what the club is earning so as not to gain an unfair advantage over other clubs when you have multi billionaire owners.
So what Manchester City are been accused of doing is inflating how much they were earning so that they could spend more on players, earnings and transfer fees. The information we believe in Der Spiegel showed an example of this where Manchester City had a sponsorship with Etihad Airways with £60 million and according to Der Spiegel Etihad weren’t paying the £60 million, they were paying £8 million. The other £52 million was coming from an investment company that was linked to the owners of Manchester City.
So where does this leave the team? The manager and players have contracts. Do they want to hang around a club who wont play Champions League football for two years? Well even if some wanted to leave they are under contract. But alot may feel some kind of loyalty to Manchester City so that may not be a problem. Signing players will be an issue though. Firstly big players want to play in the Champions League so a move to City may not be appealing. Also with revenue loss from the Champions League and having to abide by the financial fair play rules (balancing the books) it means signing players for big money becomes alot more difficult.
There is no doubt that Manchester City will appeal this ban. Even if they fail on the first appeal the will appeal to the swiss supreme court. A lawyer commented on the case and said he thought there was a good chance Manchester City would get this overturned. Why? He said because Manchester City are richer than UEFA.