EPL clubs to call for action on City over financial fair play

LONDON • At least a dozen top-flight clubs are planning to write to the Premier League to ask what action they intend to take over alleged breaches of financial fair play (FFP) by Manchester City.

In an unprecedented move, they intend to call on the league to clarify its position over the accusations.

The Times understands that a majority of clubs are already on board with the proposal and more were being asked to sign up on Thursday night. The development illustrates how scepticism over City's practices permeates beyond their immediate top-six rivals.

The news comes as European football governing body Uefa announced on Thursday a formal investigation into alleged FFP violations by City, stemming from information released in the Football Leaks data cache, but which the club strongly deny.

The Football Leaks website was set up in 2015 to reveal alleged corruption in football and has supplied documents to several European news outlets in the past four years. The latest leaked files suggest that City discussed a plan to pay Jadon Sancho's family £225,000 (S$400,200) before recruiting the England forward when he was a 14-year-old at Watford's academy.

The Times has learnt that Uefa has contacted France's financial prosecutor seeking access to millions of Football Leaks documents.

However, the club have dismissed as "entirely false" accusations they may have flouted FFP rules, issuing a statement that read: "Manchester City welcomes a formal Uefa investigation to bring an end to the speculation resulting from the illegal hacking and out-of-context publication of City e-mails.

"The accusation of financial irregularities are entirely false. The club's published accounts are complete, and a matter of legal and regulatory record."

Uefa's club financial control body said its investigation would "focus on alleged violations of FFP that were made public in various media outlets".

However, City cannot allow off-field matters to distract them from their task at hand, which would be to temporarily establish a four-point lead over nearest Premier League challengers Liverpool, who have 70 points and host Burnley a day later.

Today, Pep Guardiola's men are gunning for their fifth straight league victory against Watford, who are also enjoying a decent spell with four wins in five games.

There will be a reunion for the Spaniard with Gerard Deulofeu, his former Barcelona forward.

The Hornets' in-form player, with four assists and five goals since December, remains very grateful for the opportunities that Guardiola gave him.

But he wants to impress against the English champions at their Etihad Stadium so that he can take a step closer towards his "objective, (which) is to play for a top team".

THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2019, with the headline 'EPL clubs to call for action on City over financial fair play'. Print Edition | Subscribe