'City are cheating and should be sanctioned,' fume La Liga bosses
Spain's La Liga chiefs have demanded that Uefa take urgent action against Manchester City in the wake of explosive allegations that the club systematically cheated the European governing body's Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules through a "vast extent of deceit".
A fresh wave of claims by the Football Leaks whistleblowers about the extraordinary lengths to which City allegedly went to dodge the FFP regulations were published by German magazine 'Der Spiegel' yesterday.
The latest revelation centres around a scheme City allegedly created to cut spending and boost revenues by selling players' image rights to an external company which was bankrolled by City owner Sheikh Mansour.
It was dubbed "Project Longbow" and, according to an internal email by City's chief legal adviser, Simon Cliff, took its name from the "weapon the English used to beat the French at Crecy and Agincourt". 'Der Spiegel' claimed "the enemy" in City's case was Uefa's then French president, Michel Platini, for whom FFP was his signature project.
Those allegations follow claims City artificially inflated and backdated sponsorship deals. The most damning revelation claims Mansour, through his Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG), directly funded the vast majority of City's flagship sponsorship deal with Etihad Airways, paying almost £59.5m of the £67.5m annual deal to the club. More leaks are expected to be published today and tomorrow which 'Der Spiegel' says will cover efforts by City employees to "impede human rights organisations and control the press".
La Liga became the first major European league to react publicly to the news yesterday by claiming the leaked documents "appear to confirm what we have been saying for years". City were fined £50m in 2014 for breaching FFP rules, with £32m of it suspended.
Javier Tebas, the La Liga president, wrote to Uefa more than a year ago to demand action against City and Paris Saint-Germain and a spokesman for the Spanish top flight said they would lodge a complaint with the European Union competition authorities.
"Our position is clear. The leaks validate what we have been saying for more than a year," a La Liga spokesperson said. "Uefa should now take action and apply the rules that exist and any sanctions that are necessary.
"Uefa should do its job in terms of enforcing FFP because, as we have said before, both Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are not complying with FFP rules.
"Both Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City are cheating and should be sanctioned."
City boss Pep Guardiola reacted to the allegations, which pre-date his arrival, by denying the club's success was down to money.
"If people say what we have done, it's just about money, we have to accept it, but that point of view is completely wrong," Guardiola said ahead of City's Champions League tie against Shakhtar Donetsk tonight. "We work a lot in a good way and that's why I always defend us in what we do."
When it was put to him that City had allegedly been spending money they should not have been allowed to, Guardiola replied: "The club has made a statement on Friday about what happened, (about the) stolen emails. I trust the club and what they have done. Of course, we want to follow the rules, whether that is Uefa, Fifa or the Premier League. They will do what they have to do." (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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