Man City back on the defensive over sponsorships; Hogan stepping up at Liverpool
English soccer’s Manchester City have dismissed new claims that they circumvented Uefa financial fair play rules by receiving funding from their Abu Dhabi owners masked as sponsorship deals with companies in the emirate.
Earlier this month, the Court of Arbitration for Sport lifted a two-year ban from European competition that had been imposed on the club for breaches of the regulations.
The court said it found “no conclusive evidence that they disguised funding from their owner as sponsorship,” which had been the basis of Uefa’s original investigation.
The independent body also cleared the club of “disguising equity funds as sponsorship contributions.”
However, new “leaked” emails published by German magazine Der Spiegel, which reported the initial allegations against City on which the Uefa probe was based, appear to cast doubt on the CAS judgement.
One from City director Simon Pearce, also a senior executive in an Abu Dhabi government authority, set out that he was “forwarding” Etihad, the club’s main sponsor, £91 million ($120 million) of the £99 million it owed, with the airline only having to provide £8 million.
City were found guilty by Uefa’s Club Financial Control Body of overinflating the value of their deal with Etihad in 2012-13 and 2013-14 to cover up extra investment from the club’s owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, a member of the emirate’s royal family.
However, the club has vehemently denied this was the case and, in its verdict on the matter, CAS said “most of the alleged breaches reported by the adjudicatory chamber of the CFCB were either not established or time-barred," and that the burden of proof in the case lay with Uefa, which had not satisfied it.
From the start of the affair, City have maintained their innocence, and claimed that club emails were accessed illegally.
Commenting on the latest report, City said: “The questions and matters raised by Der Spiegel appear to be a cynical attempt to publicly re-litigate and undermine a case that has been fully adjudicated, after detailed proceedings and due process, by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“Manchester City’s policy remains not to comment on out of context materials purported to have been criminally obtained from City Football Group and Manchester City personnel.”
Although cleared of the charges of breaching the FFP rules by overinflating sponsorship revenue, CAS did impose a fine of €10 million ($11.85 million), down from the original €30 million, on City for failing to co-operate with the Uefa investigation.
Meanwhile, Peter Moore is to step down as chief executive of Liverpool, after three years in the role.
Moore is to be succeeded by Billy Hogan, currently the managing director and chief commercial officer of the new Premier League champions.
Moore’s three-year contract expires this summer and he is returning to USA where he worked for over three decades for companies including Sega, Reebok, Microsoft and Electronic Arts.
He will oversee a transition period for the next two months, with Hogan to formally take charge on 1 September.
The new chief executive has worked for Liverpool’s US owners Fenway Sports Group since 2004, and was responsible for negotiating the club’s new kit supply deal with Nike, which is worth £30 million per year, plus 20 per cent of royalties on replica sales.
Liverpool are coming off a season in which they landed their first English league title in 30 years and were crowned Club World Cup champions.