New evidence has come to light that could prove Manchester City funnelled millions of pounds into the club to inflate the value of their sponsorship deals as a way to cheat the Financial Fair Play regulations.
The Premier League are still investigating the Citizens for their alleged breach of FFP, which originally saw them booted out of the Champions League for two seasons by UEFA. The European football governing body’s decision was overturned on appeal, but the saga is far from over.
And the Daily Mail reports that an email sent by a senior executive within the sports sponsorship team at Etihad Airways back in April 2011 could be the proof the Premier League needs to find Man City guilty.
The email was composed to a business contact working in the ‘partnerships’ department at the club, asking them to clarify with the accounts department over a sponsorship fee payment of £12m for the 2010/11 season.
“Dear [XXX] … there seems to be some confusion about an outstanding balance of the sponsorship fee for the 2010/11 season,” the writer began.
“As you are aware, Etihad’s commitment is for £4m and the remaining balance (£8m) is handled separately by the [UAE] Executive Affairs Authority. Please can you clarify this to your accounts department and pick it up direct with the EAA in due course. Kind regards.”
And it is understood that Man City invoiced Etihad for a sum of £12m for the shirt sponsorship deal, but the invoice also sported a handwritten annotation stating that Etihad themselves were only required to pay £4m of the fee that year.
Further evidence proves that this sponsorship deal may have been inflated from £4m to £12m, after Etihad paid £3.5m in 2009/10 for the same deal, and £4.5m in the 2011/12 campaign.
It appears that Etihad were not paying the entire sums they were being invoiced by Man City, but a different entity working for Sheik Mohammed was. And the result is that the club has allegedly benefitted from inflated sponsorship deals, via money funnelled in from the UAE, as a method of getting around FFP rules.
If found guilty, these findings could land the current Premier League champions in a whole world of trouble.