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City Group’s expansion is starting to run into legal complexities

By Tony Attwood

If it goes on like this there really won’t be any need for Leagues, broadcasters, the PGMO, and anyone else else, because everything will be done by the City Group.  Except that there is a problem with the continual growth of Citygroup, which is called Eurojust.

To give the background…

City Football Group, is the parent company of Manchester City, and I guess most people know that they also own a few other clubs and institutions.  But just how many… if you have not been keeping in touch it might come as a bit of a surprise.

So what’s going on?  What’s the point?  And have City sailed through all the allegations made against them in the leaked emails?

One explanation that has been offered is because the whole venture is a PR ploy to put the owners at the heart of football, and thus by-pass any bad publicity about a lack of human rights in Abu Dhabi.

Certainly if PR was the reason for the whole business it has sadly backfired with the corruption cases brought against Manchester City by Uefa wherein the club responded by claiming that Uefa itself was corrupt.  Calling the court incompetent doesn’t normally help as a way of defence.

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But this case is now getting much bigger.  A year ago The Premier League announced an investigation of Manchester City in a move that was reported by some to be an attempt to head off public action by other Premier League teams that have grown frustrated by the lack of action by the League in controlling City’s expenditure.

A report in the Guardian stated that on top of the financial fair play investigations into their financial activity between 2012 and 2016, the club could face further sanctions once Uefa’s club financial control body (CFCB) investigate the period from 2016 onwards.

The Guardian also said, “Uefa also had concerns over the value of their £350m sponsorship with Etihad and deals that raised £47m from image rights and intellectual property in 2012-13.”

But that was just the start, and rather unusually, Forbes, the financial magazine decided to dedicate a complete article to a review of the whole variety of cases Manchester City has faced or is facing

There was the one in 2017, when the Premier League imposed a two year ban on Manchester City from signing schoolboy players from other academies and fined the club £300,000.

Then there is the ongoing issue of the Football Leaks published in Der Spiegel which appear to show that the sponsorship deal between Manchester City and Etihad Airlines was inflated for the purposes of meeting Financial Fair Play regulations and that Sheikh Mansour paid £59.5m directly to Etihad Airlines and so the real sponsorship by the airline was £8m rather than £67.5m claimed.

In another case the FA is considered a claim that Manchester City paid the agent of Jadon Sancho £200,000 and offered future inducements.  The problem was the player was only 14 at the time.

FIFA, the organisation that the UK press love to ignore for fear of upsetting the FA, may also be laying off for fear of upsetting Mancheseter City.  It is undertaking an investigation concerning the signing of foreign youth players with Manchester City said by those in the know to be one of the teams involved.  So far only Chelsea have been charged and they were found guilty.

After that we turn to Der Spiegel which has reported that Manchester City and the chairman of FC Nordsjaelland in Denmark, agreed to allow City to obtain players from an academy in Ghana, without the permission of the players and their parents – thus making it a third party ownership issue.

Next on the scene is the European Agency Eurojust which has launched a tax evasion, fraud, embezzlement, corruption and money laundering investigation into Manchester City

Eurojust (the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation) coordinates investigations happening among different national bodies and prosecuting authorities is now involved.

It’s remit is to work on cases of serious crime where that crime affects two or more Member States, or requires prosecution on common bases, on the basis of operations conducted and information supplied by the Member States’ authorities, by Europol, by the EPPO and by OLAF.

Eurojust acts either when asked to get involved by a member state of the EU or at the request of the European Commission or the European Public Prosecutor’s Office.  The case, it seems concerns “serious tax evasion, collective fraud, embezzlement, corruption and money laundering,” and it all centres around football and the wikileaks files.

Indeed the case involves 12 million files – meaning that there will be many more documents all told in the case.  What this shows is that the claim that the leaked documents could not be used legally because they were leaked, is false.  They are being used in investigations all across Europe and multiple cases are ongoing as the prosecutors plough through the data.

A couple of weeks ago Eurojust organized a press briefing on the Football Leaks release of information. You can watch a video of the press briefing by clicking here.  This is an initial meeting between the countries involved, leading to possible co-operation in future so it does not go into detail but it confirms the size of the investigation that is now ongoing.

Of course the UK press don’t report this – and this lack of media interest in all sorts of issues concerning football is becoming a repetitive point here.  But just because the UK press won’t handle the issues, that does not mean they are not real.

11 comments to City Group’s expansion is starting to run into legal complexities

  • MOONEY

    REPORTED FOR SLANDER

  • Dukinfield Blue

    Oh look, another bitter , nasty gooner rant Generated solely as they have Knocked off their perch by city and even spurs and don’t like it. Do they realise they are not entitled to be too 4,year after year?, yes you have to earn it but that’s impossible when you have ownership that are not interested in driving the club forward in the way of investment, but only interested in making money for themselves.

    You can keep your bitter and nasty rant because you are a second rate club with 3rd rate fans and owners, when city win their case against uefa and sue them for 100’s of millions in compensation, will you apologise for these slurs?, I’d consider it if I were you or you could be next.

  • Uncle Mike

    City Football Group’s other teams include Melbourne City in Australia, formerly named Melbourne Heart FC. There’s a metaphor for “modern football”: They took the Heart out of the team.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    OT: A lot of old matches are being put on the web, presumably to keep us football fans entertained…couldn’t resist watching WHam beat Sp*rs on the last day of the 2005-2006 season. Good old Schadenfreude.

  • I think the Dukinfield Blue comment really is worth considering, in that while of course not representing anything like all Manchester City supporters, does show the tendency to take all reporting on tribal grounds and ignore actual reporting of facts. I imagine, following the logic of that post, the writer also thinks that the agencies across Europe that are looking into the matter are all somehow nasty little ranters.
    Thankfully in Europe we do still have some people interested in the rule of law.

  • I wouldn’t normally publish little comments like this, but it really did make me laugh. I mean, if you are going to write a three word block capital comment it is probably not a bad idea to ensure that you know what each of the three words means.

  • Alph Boracic

    How very tribal. Manchester City could be guilty of many things but I scarcely imagine that the Royal Family of oil rich Abu Dhabi are guilty of money laundering or many of the other ‘potential’ crimes in the “millions” of email documents referred to. Let’s hope that Kronkers has been behaving himself – we’d look a bit silly if Manchester City, who were not even mentioned in the video piece, are not guilty but that some other long established European ‘giants’ with a chequered past (mentioning no names) are found to have been very naughty. I will reserve judgement until evidenced charges are laid at the doors of the accused, the the accused have been tried and found guilty, all appeals processes have been exhausted and the truth has been justified. In the meantime try reporting things like this, that’s good journalism, but without pointing the finger accusingly without a shred of evidence to support you because that is bad journalism at best and libellous propaganda at worse.
    Toodle pip!

  • Mikey

    “SLANDER” eh? Did you do a podcast of this too Tony? 🙂

  • I do love it when extra attention is drawn to our pieces by commentaries telling us how awful we are. It takes us up the rankings each time. Concerning the meeting that is on the video I think you misunderstand what it is about. It is a report stage on the size of the investigation.

  • Alph Boracic

    I assume you are not referring to me because I have never told you that your material is awful. Ihappen to thing most of your material is a good read, nicely parochial without being ‘scousingly’ tribal 🙂

    My point of concern is this:

    Quote from your article:
    “Next on the scene is the European Agency Eurojust which has launched a tax evasion, fraud, embezzlement, corruption and money laundering investigation into Manchester City”
    “Eurojust (the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation) coordinates investigations happening among different national bodies and prosecuting authorities is now involved.”
    Quote ends:

    Really Tony – could you please point me to the timing of any comments in the 36.30 minutes of that Eurojust video where you consider that your statements are evidenced.
    It seems to me that you have commenced an article all about Manchester City and allegations, most of which have either failed to be proven or, where imposed by a sporting regulatory panel, are subject to review and arbitration. It then appears you have postulated on very dubious grounds that the Eurojust investigation is all about Manchester City and it’s owners. For instance: Linking Manchester City and it’s owners to the following comment, which you undoubtedly have, is dangerous indeed.

    Quote:
    Eurojust acts either when asked to get involved by a member state of the EU or at the request of the European Commission or the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. The case, it seems concerns “serious tax evasion, collective fraud, embezzlement, corruption and money laundering,” and it all centres around football and the wikileaks files.
    Quote ends

    The best advice I can offer is that you modify your leaps of assumption in future, or at the very least get a legal opinion. I doubt very much if the Manchester City ownership are bothered in the slightest about your personal opinion or your personal conclusions, but once you publish these in the public domain that can all change. Should you get wide publicity and, as you put it “go up the rankings”, then any misrepresentation may result in you finding yourself in need of a flak jacket, tin hat cricket box and expensive legal representation.

    No axe to grind Tony; just saying!

  • There is nothing in the video which mentions Man City. I am sorry if the way I wrote the piece made that seem to be the case. Eurojust is looking into the leaked files which as a number of articles on this site over time have shown, have a link to Manchester City’s financial issues with Uefa. Eurojust then took up the case in order to co-ordinate the issue across Europe, and to give an avenue wherein each European country that felt it was affected by issues raised through the leaked emails, could continue its own cases and get to know what other countries are doing.
    Eurojust doesn’t act very often but when it does the results can be interesting. That’s all.

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