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City forced to defend financial moves

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Sheikh Mansour. Photo: AFP/Getty

Sheikh Mansour. Photo: AFP/Getty

Sheikh Mansour. Photo: AFP/Getty

Manchester City have again been forced to defend themselves from accusations they have tried to cheat European football's Financial Fair Play rules.

Last week, German magazine Der Spiegel published a story which claimed the Premier League leaders struck a secret deal with European football's governing body UEFA in 2014 to avoid a potential Champions League ban for breaching FFP regulations.

City said at the time the original magazine article was published that they would not be commenting and that the attempt to damage their reputation was "organised and clear".

On Monday, Der Spiegel published a new article on what it alleges are City's attempts to deceive UEFA by channelling millions of pounds of their owner Sheikh Mansour's immense wealth into the club via their Abu Dhabi-based sponsors.

City repeated the statement they issued last week, defending their position and referring to "out of context materials purportedly hacked or stolen from City Football Group and Manchester City personnel and associated people", but are likely to face more questions throughout the week.

Citing emails between City bosses that it claims to have obtained, Der Spiegel alleges that Sheikh Mansour, a senior member of Abu Dhabi's royal family, has been topping up City's already lucrative sponsorship deals with Emirati companies with his own money - which if true would be a clear breach of FFP's rules against "related parties" pumping cash into clubs.

According to the emails, Sheikh Mansour had "supplemented" City's "Abu Dhabi partnership deals" by £149.5million by the time the club won the first of three Premier League titles under his ownership in 2012.

A year later, Der Spiegel claims, the club had to fill a £9.9million hole in their budget to meet FFP's 'break even' requirement because of severance payments to sacked manager Roberto Mancini.

The club's solution, according to the German magazine, was to get three of its main backers - investment firm Aabar, the Abu Dhabi tourism authority and airline Etihad - to make up-front payments totalling £7.5million for increases in their sponsorship deals.


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