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Premier League accuses Manchester City of years of financial breaches

Manchester City, which has enjoyed a stretch of success unprecedented in its 143-year history under its Abu Dhabi ownership, was accused of financial improprieties. (Dave Thompson/AP)
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Manchester City was accused by the Premier League on Monday of breaching several financial rules from 2009 to 2018, years in which the English club began the most successful run in its 143-year history under its Abu Dhabi-based ownership.

In a lengthy and detailed statement, the Premier League announced that a four-year investigation had revealed the alleged improprieties over a period of time when City won Premier League titles in 2012, 2014 and 2018.

The league’s two-time defending champion and a six-time champion since 2011-12, City is accused of not providing “accurate financial information that gives a true and fair view of the club’s financial position” between 2009 and 2018 or giving “full details of manager remuneration in its relevant contracts” from 2009 to 2013, years when Roberto Mancini was manager.

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Other allegations include failing to comply with UEFA regulations from 2013 to 2018 and Premier League profitability and sustainability rules from 2015 to 2018, and failing to assist with the Premier League’s investigation of the club from December 2018 to the present.

In a statement, Manchester City said it is “surprised by the issuing of these alleged breaches of the Premier League Rules, particularly given the extensive engagement and vast amount of detailed materials that the EPL has been provided with.”

Premier League rules give an independent disciplinary commission the power to impose penalties. If the allegations are proved true, a hefty fine seems likely, with additional possibilities that could include a point deduction, the nullification of a title or even expulsion from the league.

“The Club welcomes the review of this matter by an independent Commission, to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence that exists in support of its position,” the club’s statement continued. “As such we look forward to this matter being put to rest once and for all.”

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The league’s investigation of City’s finances began after documents were obtained by German publication Der Spiegel and reviewed by Reuters. In February 2020, City was given a two-year ban from the Champions League by UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, but an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned the ban months after it was levied.

City was not fully cleared of wrongdoing, but the court determined that some allegations were either unproven or fell outside UEFA’s statute of limitations. The court fined City 10 million euros (then $11.3 million) for failing to cooperate with investigators.

According to the Times of London, Premier League rules prohibit the club from appealing any penalty this time to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

City became a global power after it was acquired in 2008 by City Football Group and Abu-Dhabi-based owners, including Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and a member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family. The alleged breaches of the Premier League’s financial rules came in the first nine full seasons under that ownership.