Man City chief says alleged FFP breaches are "simply not true"
Ferran Soriano has launched a staunch defence of Manchester City and questioned UEFA's methods for investigating alleged FFP breaches.
Last week, UEFA issued the Premier League champions with a two-season ban from European competition and a €30million fine after its investigation found them guilty of breaking FFP regulations.
UEFA's Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) said City had "committed serious breaches" of FFP rules by overstating sponsorship revenue between 2012 and 2016 and added the club had failed to cooperate in its investigation.
City said they were "disappointed but not surprised" by the outcome and promised to appeal against the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Soriano, City CEO since September 2012, spoke on Wednesday to deny the club have received funds from owner Sheikh Mansour that were not "properly declared" and said City did cooperate with the CFCB, delivering "irrefutable evidence" that they committed no wrongdoing.
He also accused the CFCB adjudicatory chamber of being more concerned about "politics" than justice and criticised its reliance on "out-of-context stolen emails" in their investigation. UEFA has declined to respond to Soriano's comments.
Soriano: "City is a sustainable football club"
"The most important thing I have to say today is that the allegations are not true. They are simply not true," Soriano told City media.
"The owner has not put money in this club that has not been properly declared. We are a sustainable football club, we are profitable, we don't have debt, our accounts have been scrutinised many times, by auditors, by regulators, by investors and this is perfectly clear.
"We did cooperate with this process. We delivered a long list of documents and support that we believe is irrefutable evidence that the claims are not true and it was hard because we did this in the context of information being leaked to the media in the context of feeling that every step of the way, every engagement we had, we felt that we were considered guilty before anything was even discussed, but at the end, this is an internal process that has been initiated and then prosecuted and then judged by this FFP chamber at UEFA.
"Of course, a lot of people come now and say, 'Well, what were you expecting? This is the way it works. You should have expected a negative outcome the way the system is designed'. But we didn't believe that. We worked very hard. We provided the evidence but in the end this FFP investigatory chamber relied more on out-of-context stolen emails than all the other evidence we provided of what actually happened and I think it is normal that we feel like we feel. Ultimately, based on our experience and our perception, this seems to be less about justice and more about politics.
"We went to CAS mid-process because it was clear to us that we were not having a fair process and we were concerned. We were specifically concerned about the leaks, the constant leak of information. CAS said there was merit in our complaint, they said that the leaks were 'worrisome' and they said they would judge it when process has finished. The process has finished now; we are going to CAS again.
"We are looking for an early resolution obviously through a thorough process and a fair process so my best hope is that this will be finished before the beginning of the summer and until then for us, it is business as usual.
"The experience with this FFP investigatory chamber has been negative for us, more than what I would have imagined. But this is not UEFA. We are not talking about the whole of UEFA, which is an association of associations. I personally know many people that work at UEFA, very hard for the benefit of UEFA, but also for the benefit of the clubs of UEFA like ours, but also for the benefit of football.
"All we are looking for is a proper adjudication in an independent and impartial body that is going to take the time to look at all the evidence and look at it without preconception. I am also looking for the end of this process maybe to put an end under this undertone that we are hearing all the time that anything that we do, any result that we get, is based only on money and not on talent and effort. The hundreds of people that work at this club know this is not true, that it is about effort and talent, so maybe, in the end, this is an opportunity."
The looming Champions League ban has prompted speculation over the futures of City's star players and manager Pep Guardiola, who has only a year left on his contract, but Soriano insists their focus is solely on football.
"Obviously, he has been kept informed about this process but this is not something for him to respond to," he said of Guardiola. "He is focused on the football, he is focusing on the game, the game at hand, the game today, tomorrow and the next weeks. As well as the players. They are calm, they are focused and this matter is more a business matter, a legal matter than a football manner.
"The fans can be sure of two things. The first one is that the allegations are false. And the second is that we will do everything that can be done to prove so. We know the fans are supporting us. We can feel it. Manchester City fans have gone through challenges over the decades. This is just another challenge."
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