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.
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