Tuesday 25 June 2019

City chairman Mubarak hits back at La Liga claims

Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA
Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA

Mark Critchley

Khaldoon al Mubrarak, the chairman of Manchester City, has launched a scathing attack on the head of La Liga for suggesting that the Premier League champions are the "playthings of a state".

Javier Tebas last week claimed that clubs such as City and Paris Saint-Germain, backed by wealthy Gulf state owners, are creating a competitive imbalance in European football which will change the face of the sport.

A vociferous opponent of any prospective European Super League, Tebas believes the domestic dominance of City and PSG - both champions in their respective home nations this season - is hastening attempts at a breakaway from the current structure.

City were subject to a takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008 and owner Sheikh Mansour is the half-brother of Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the president of the United Arab Emirates.

The club's ownership and financial structure has come under increased scrutiny of late, with City facing the prospect of expulsion from the Champions League after Uefa escalated an investigation into allegations that they violated Financial Fair Play regulations.

Three other football authorities - Fifa, the Premier League and the Football Association - are also separately investigating City on matters of financial compliance, third-party ownership and the signing of young players. City have denied any and all wrongdoing.

Now, in an in-house end-of-season interview, Al-Mubarak has said that City are fully confident their name will be cleared, and he has hit back at the criticisms of Tebas and others.

After Tebas described City and PSG as "state-run clubs: one of petrol-money, one of gas", Al Mubarak accused La Liga's chief of grouping the clubs together on the grounds of "ethnicity" and suggested that he discuss "facts".

"I think there's something deeply wrong in bringing ethnicity into the conversation. This is just ugly," the City chairman said. "I think the way he is combining teams because of ethnicity. I find that very disturbing to be honest.

"[Tebas] talks about how we distorted the market? There is a hypocrisy in this statement that is ironic," Al Mubarak added.

"Number one, let's look at the Spanish league, the time of breaking records on player acquisitions, I mean, who started that? Let's go back to the world records, (Luis) Figo, (Zinedine) Zidane. These huge jumps in these transfers, where did they happen?

"You know, the history, you have to look back at the history of La Liga, a league dominated by two clubs and Mr Tebas should look back at the history of that league and how distortion has happened throughout the ages.

"And then you look back at transfers. In the top ten transfers of all time, Manchester City has not a single player in that, not a single one. So I don't really take it seriously and I ask our fans to always put it in context."

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