Manchester City have been accused of inflating sponsorship deals to circumvent Financial Fair Play rules, as reported by the Daily Mail.
While UEFA’s own investigation turned up with incriminating evidence, the organisation’s rules regarding time-barred offences meant that it couldn’t act on illegal behaviour if it exceeded a five-year limit.
“City have allegedly benefited from abnormally high sponsorship details from entities based in the UAE, in deals that appear to have contravened FFP rules,” Nick Harris wrote.
“If money was being funnelled into City to artificially inflate their income for years, that would be a problem.
“And various emails and documents obtained by Football Leaks and/or this newspaper suggest that happened.
“The Premier League announced an investigation more than two years ago but that has so far been delayed by City’s actions in court. City have declined to clarify multiple issues around this.”
The publication notes that the Premier League in its investigation does suspect that a breaking of rules may have occurred in this instance.
“City’s position then is that they have broken no rules. Yet now it can be revealed that, in an argument the club put before a court, they admitted the Premier League apparently suspected there was evidence of wrongdoing,” the reporter added. “‘The Premier League contends that the [media] reports contain information suggesting breaches of the rules,’ said City’s legal team.”
When it comes to the Premier League, however, reports appear to suggest that a similar restriction does not apply, which could potentially open up City to retrospective punishment regarding, for example, the 2013/14 title narrowly won over Liverpool.
Considering that (UEFA) evidence precedes the 2015/16 season, it would seem unlikely at the moment that the 2018/19 title contested between us and our league rivals would not be made the subject of disciplinary action.
Should the Premier League’s investigation eventually conclude that City made a mockery of the rules, there’s no reason why a stripping of titles couldn’t enter the discussion if the club didn’t act on a level playing field to its competitors.
At the moment, the Manchester-based outfit remains innocent until proven guilty, though the early signs – not to mention their clear reluctance to release documentation – are hardly encouraging.