The gloves are off.
Manchester City has come out swinging, making it abundantly clear the club will be fighting the Financial Fair Play charges from UEFA with everything it has. Chief executive Ferran Soriano has gone on record in an attempt to clear the club’s name and assure fans that City will throw everything it has at the allegations.
“The most important thing I have to say today is that the allegations are not true,” Soriano said in a club-released statement. “They are simply not true.”
“The owner has not put money in this club that has not been properly declared. We are a sustainable football club, we are profitable, we don’t have debt, our accounts have been scrutinized many times, by auditors, by regulators, by investors and this is perfectly clear.”
City was handed a two-year European competition ban and a $32 million fine after UEFA found regulatory Financial Fair Play breaches regarding the misrepresentation of an owner-backed injection of money that was allegedly disguised as inflated sponsorship deals. The charges stemmed from a publication by German outlet Der Spiegel that displayed leaked emails showing evidence of the manipulation.
However, Soriano is fighting this tooth and nail. The Man City CEO accused the UEFA FFP chamber of being biased towards the Der Spiegel leak rather than take fair consideration of the evidence the club provided to the process. “We worked very hard [to cooperate with the process]. We provided the evidence but in the end this FFP Investigatory Chamber relied more on out of context stolen emails than all the other evidence we provided of what actually happened and I think it is normal that we feel like we feel. Ultimately based on our experience and our perception this seems to be less about justice and more about politics.”
Soriano also confirmed that City actually reached out to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) during the UEFA FFP process out of fear that the process was tainted, but were told that the court had little authority until an initial decision had been reached by UEFA. “We went to CAS mid process because it was clear to us that we were not having a fair process and we were concerned. We were specifically concerned about the leaks, the constant leak of information. CAS said there was merit in our complaint, they said that the leaks were ‘worrisome’ and they said they would judge it when process has finished. The process has finished now, we are going to CAS again.”
The executive assured fans that the players and manager Pep Guardiola will be kept separate from the process to continue their work on the field, while others take care of the matter in court. “Obviously, he has been kept informed about this process but this is not something for him to respond to. He is focussed on the football, he is focussing on the game, the game at hand, the game today, tomorrow and the next weeks. As well as the players. They are calm, they are focussed and this matter is more a business matter, a legal matter than a football manner.”
Finally, Soriano hopes that Man City’s potential exoneration can help assuage the growing sentiment that the club’s recent success is more down to its financial might than hard work. “I am also looking for the end of this process maybe to put a pen under this undertone that we are hearing all the time that anything that we do, any result that we get is based only on money and not on talent and effort. The 100s of people that work at this club know this is not true that it is about effort and talent so maybe in the end, this is an opportunity.”