How ‘leaked’ emails and invoices led to Manchester City’s ban from Europe

Uefa investigation was greeted with scorn and denial by the club, but has culminated in a guilty verdict

Throughout the startling “leaks” of Manchester City’s internal emails within the German magazine Der Spiegel, and therefore the resulting investigation by Uefa which led ultimately to Friday’s guilty finding and two-season Champions League ban and €30m (£25m) fine, City’s response has been uniform: scorn, outrage, denial.

The emails, splashed by Spiegel with evident relish across a series of exposés, punched into City’s expertly and expensively created modern image in three broad areas concerning Uefa’s financial fair play rules, which were introduced in 2011 to discourage clubs from overspending.

First, and most damaging, were emails and accounting documents which seemed to show that City’s owner, Sheikh Mansour, of the Abu Dhabi ruling family, was mostly funding the large , £67.5m annual sponsorship of the club’s shirt, stadium and academy by his country’s airline, Etihad. That created a perception that the Abu Dhabi hierarchy, in their drive to mega-spend on City attaining elite status while somehow complying with FFP rules, had deceived Uefa in their financial submissions. This serious trouble for City sprang from a small number of emails, a fraction of the documentary dump provided to Spiegel by its source, Rui Pinto, a Portuguese national now charged in his home country with 147 criminal offences including computer hacking, all of which he denies. judi bola terpercaya

FFP rules limit the quantity of cash owners can put in to bankroll losses, encouraging top-division European clubs to not overspend on players’ wages and transfer fees and risk falling into financial crisis, and to spend within their revenues. Mansour started financing mega-losses on player signings and wages after his 2008 takeover and City had scrambled, particularly following the introduction of FFP in 2011, to turbo-boost their revenues with large sponsorships from Abu Dhabi companies.

One of the emails, from City’s then chief treasurer , Jorge Chumillas, headed “Cashflow”, stated that Mansour’s own company vehicle, the Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG), would be paying £57m as a “contribution to 13/14 sponsorship fee”, while only £8m was Etihad’s “direct contribution”. Then Chumillas sent invoices for Etihad, internally to the town executives Ferran Soriano and Simon Pearce, stating that for 2015-16, the Etihad sponsorship was £67.5m, of which “£8m should be funded directly by Etihad and £59.5 [sic] by ADUG”.

Following the Spiegel coverage, Uefa’s club financial control body (CFCB) investigatory chamber (IC) finally announced last March that it had been launching an investigation, and City responded by saying they might comfortably prove that the accusations were “entirely false”. The IC, a panel of grandees chaired by Yves Leterme, a former Belgian prime minister, was clearly not convinced, however, after its inquiry which involved two days of hearings, and it charged the club in May. City responded with scorn, accusing the IC of ignoring “a comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence”, said the choice was the results of “mistakes, misinterpretations and confusions fundamentally borne out of a basic lack of due process”, and in effect accused the IC of being biased, running “a wholly unsatisfactory, curtailed, and hostile process”.