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UEFA’s former chief investigator says he is ‘convinced Man City have committed FRAUD’ – but warns the club will use a ‘battery of lawyers’ to defend themselves after they were charged with more than 100 rule breaches by the Premier League
- The Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned UEFA’s ban on Manchester City
- The Premier League does not fall under CAS’ jurisdiction – so City cannot appeal
- Former chief investigator Yves Leterme says the league’s case is stronger
The Premier League has a stronger case against Manchester City than UEFA did three years ago, according to the governing body’s former chief investigator Yves Leterme.
UEFA suspended the Premier League giants from European football in 2020 for allegedly breaching Financial Fair Play rules, before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturned the ban.
City, who were sensationally charged by the Premier League on Monday, have been accused of breaking financial rules again – more than 100 times over a nine-year period – and risk a points deduction or even expulsion from the league if found guilty.
Leterme, the chief of UEFA’s investigation who was left devastated by CAS’ decision to overturn the ban, is confident that the Premier League has a stronger case against the Manchester club as City cannot appeal to the international body.
The charges brought by the Premier League do not fall under the CAS’ jurisdiction, with an independent commission instead deciding on a suitable sanction for City should they be proven.
The Premier League has charged Manchester City with breaking financial rules over 100 times
Ex-chief investigator Yves Leterme thinks the Premier League has a ‘stronger case’ than UEFA
City therefore cannot appeal to the CAS as they did before and Leterme is adamant this will benefit the Premier League in their upcoming legal fight.
Upon learning that City were not able to appeal, Leterme told Belgian outlet Sporza: ‘That would make this case stronger. And then there is another element: the scope of the complaint is now broader than that at UEFA, both in time and in substance.
‘Especially because the Premier League does not have to adhere to the same strict limitation periods as we do. We encountered a period of five years, which meant that we could not use important elements.
‘There was a total lack of transparent flow of financial information. With a battery of lawyers, they did everything they could to counter the work of our auditors. In addition, it turned out that money from sponsorship was actually paid by the owner.’
He added: ‘Finally, there were also the ambiguities surrounding contracts. However, thanks to emails and bank statements, we had hard evidence. I am convinced that fraud has been committed by Manchester City.
‘The problem, however, was that UEFA’s ruling could be contested with an arbitration committee, which does not fall under the real judiciary. Those arbitrators are always drawn from 10 to 12 of the same people and can reduce the sentence because they consider it too severe.’
The charges against the reigning champions relate to financial information regarding revenue, details of manager and player remuneration, UEFA regulations, profitability and sustainability and co-operation with Premier League investigations.
A statement from the league said alleged financial rule breaches were committed from September 2009 to the 2017-18 season and will be referred to an independent commission. City are also facing charges for failing to cooperate with the Premier League’s investigation, which began in 2018.
City could have their titles stripped, have points deducted or face expulsion from the league
Man City’s response
The Premier League club released a statement on Monday, which read:
‘Manchester City FC 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.
‘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. As such we look forward to this matter being put to rest once and for all.’
Sportsmail understands that papers were served to City at the same time the Premier League announced the charges.
An executive-level phone call from the competition to the club also took place but no prior warning was given to the club.
In a statement, Manchester City said it was surprised by the alleged breaches.
It read: ‘Manchester City FC 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.
‘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.
‘As such we look forward to this matter being put to rest once and for all.’
City declined to comment beyond their statement. It is understood, however, that there is a view within the club that the timing of the charges do not come as a coincidence.
Officials at the Etihad are also understood to be surprised at the lack of warning they received before the Premier League made the statement public.
There is considerable confidence within the City camp that they will be able to defend themselves. The fact that the charges cannot be time-barred is even being seen as a positive with some feeling that being able to defend the charges in full represents an opportunity.