Emails have emerged which appear to show the State of Abu Dhabi facilitating payments to Manchester City, reigniting the controversy which led to the club receiving a ban from European competition which was eventually overturned by the Arbitral Tribunal of the sport.
According to documents published by Der Spiegel, City liaised with a Gulf state government agency to make payments to the club owed by a private company under the control of family member Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan. Royal Abu Dhabi and Owner of the city since 2008.
This comes alongside other claims that the Premier League is investigating the possibility that City paid transfer fees for underage players and supplemented their former manager Roberto Mancini’s salary through a secret consultancy deal. .
City would not comment on the allegations, but sources close to the club said the new reports were a continuation of an “orchestrated campaign” and part of an “endless attempt to harm us”. Previous allegations by Der Spiegel suggesting City were the beneficiary of inflated sponsorship deals funded directly by Sheikh Mansour led to the club receiving a two-year Champions League ban. This ban was later overturned on appeal by Cas.
The new reports are based in part on a new installment of documents released by the Football Leaks group. They show a number of communications between Simon Pearce, a member of the city board and vice-chairman of sister club Melbourne City FC, and Omar Awad, chief financial officer of the Executive Affairs Authority, a government agency. Abu Dhabi.
In a 2013 email, Pearce asks Awad to transfer a payment of £31.7million to City from a bank account belonging to the Abu Dhabi Investment and Development Group (ADUG). This is a fund owned by Sheikh Mansour, but which UAE officials have always claimed was a private fund and unrelated to the state.
Other club communications published by Der Spiegel but previously reported by Reuters show Pearce communicating from an EEA.gov.ae email address. One such letter was sent to Pearce by Andrew Widdowson, City’s then chief financial officer, on December 7, 2012 and asked Pearce “to help facilitate amounts due through Abu Dhabi’s partners”. Widdowson goes on to detail the sums of money to be channeled through sponsors Etihad and Etisalat, two Abu Dhabi companies. “I want to make sure they go through the right channels and aren’t clawed back as separate funding sources,” Widdowson writes.
Der Spiegel also reports that the Premier League are continuing to investigate City after nearly three years, in what the magazine claims is a three-part prosecution. Along with questions about the State of Abu Dhabi’s involvement in payments to City, the Premier League is also reportedly looking into allegations that City signed then 14-year-old player Brahim Díaz in breach of Fifa rules. on the movement of minors. Der Spiegel claim that ADUG also paid €360,000 in compensation to Díaz’s youth team, indirectly through Spanish intermediaries.
The Premier League are also said to be investigating allegations also part of Football Leaks records, which appear to show that former manager Mancini received both a salary from City and a larger annual ‘consulting’ fee from Al Jazeera. Club, a controlled group. by Sheikh Mansour. The additional fee was allegedly designed to circumvent UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules.
The Premier League would not comment on the Der Spiegel allegations, nor the investigation into City which was confirmed to be ongoing in an appeal court ruling last year. In a statement released in 2019, the Premier League said it would not comment further on the investigation.