Spanish league wants UEFA to investigate Man City’s spending

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — The Spanish soccer league wants UEFA to investigate Manchester City’s spending and expand its newly-launched probe into whether Paris Saint-Germain has breached Financial Fair Play rules.

Spanish league president Javier Tebas said in a statement to The Associated Press on Monday that Abu Dhabi-funded City and Qatari-owned PSG are benefiting from state aid which distorts European competitions and “is irreparably harming the football industry.”

Tebas wrote separate letters to European soccer’s governing body on Aug. 22 requesting investigations into Man City and PSG.

UEFA said Friday it would look into whether PSG was flouting rules designed to control excessive spending by top European clubs. Tebas wants UEFA to go further and look into “PSG’s history of noncompliance.”

Both City and PSG spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the transfer window that closed last week, and the Spanish league claims the teams “benefit from sponsorships that make no economic sense and lack any fair value” to help them comply with FFP.

Ultimately, clubs breaching rules can be banned from playing in the Champions League or Europa League.

“PSG and Man City’s funding by state-aid distorts European competitions and creates an inflationary spiral that is irreparably harming the football industry,” Tebas said. “UEFA must enforce FFP regulations to avoid discrimination among clubs.”

In 2014, PSG and City were the main targets of the first round of FFP sanctions. Both had 20 million euros ($24 million) of their Champions League prize money deducted and had limits imposed on their spending and squad size for matches.

Then, UEFA judges told PSG that a sponsorship deal with Qatar’s tourism authority had been inflated above fair market value to help the club comply with the rules. It was only in April that UEFA declared that PSG had fulfilled its obligations of stricter ongoing scrutiny.

But Tebas said both City and PSG are still trying to evade spending rules intended to ensure clubs break even.

“PSG is a habitual offender and has been violating UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations for years,” Tebas said. “It is important that UEFA doesn’t just look at the most recent player transfers, but at PSG’s history of noncompliance. The transfers are merely the result of years of financial doping at PSG.”

UEFA responded by saying, as of Monday afternoon, there was “no investigation into Manchester City with regards to Financial Fair Play regulations.”

UEFA’s club finance monitoring panel intervened last week to open a fresh investigation into PSG after the Frenchclub broke the world record fee to sign Neymar from Barcelona for 222 million euros ($262 million) and on Thursday signed Monaco forward Kylian Mbappe.

The deal for the 18-year-old Mbappe was unusual as a one-season loan with a commitment to pay a reported 180 million euros ($216 million) next year, delaying PSG’s financial commitment to the deal.

City was the biggest spending club in European soccer’s recent transfer window, with an outlay exceeding 220 million pounds ($285 million). The purchase of defenders Kyle Walker (Tottenham) and Benjamin Mendy (Monaco) accounted for about 100 million pounds ($130 million) of the spending.

During the current three-year FFP assessment period that runs through 2018, clubs playing in European competitions can incur losses of 30 million euros ($36 million) and not just rely on cash that has been injected by owners. To achieve that, according to Tebas, PSG and City are inflating their income by using sponsorship state-backed companies.

Tebas has cited to UEFA how Man City is sponsored by several state-backed companies: Etihad Airways, the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, sovereign investment fund Aabar, Etisalat communications firm and First Gulf Bank.

PSG had seven Qatari sponsorships last season: communications firm Ooredoo, Qatar National Bank, Aspire Academy, Aspetar hospital, Katara cultural project, broadcaster BeIN Sports and Qatar Tourism Authority.

PSG was bought in 2011 by the energy-rich country’s Qatar Sports Investment.

City has been owned since 2008 by Sheikh Mansour, who is a member of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi — the oil-rich capital of the United Arab Emirates. He also serves as a deputy prime minister and minister of presidential affairs.


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