Manchester City has been charged with 115 breaches of financial regulations by the Premier League following a four-year investigation. Among the charges faced by the reigning Premier League champions is the allegation that Yaya Toure’s former agent Dimitri Seluk received secret payments from the club's owners, Sheikh Mansour's Abu Dhabi United Group.
Seluk has denied the claims, saying that everything was “transparent” and that everything was paid including tax. He added that he would be willing to speak to the independent commission responsible for overseeing the case. The allegations were initially made by the German website Der Spiegel, which published documents from the Football Leaks cache that originated with Portuguese computer hacker Rui Pinto.
Der Spiegel alleged that City overstated sponsorship income and that the money was paid by the club's Abu Dhabi owners rather than sponsors linked to the Gulf state. The related sponsorship deals were with Etihad airline, which still sponsors City’s stadium and shirts, and telecoms company Etisalat. The website also claimed that the Abu Dhabi United Group paid Seluk around £3.5 million between 2010 and 2015 when Toure was a Manchester City player.
The payments were said to have been approved by Manchester City's CEO Ferran Soriano and chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak. Yaya Toure joined City from Barcelona in 2010 on a £250,000-a-week contract and was a key player during his eight-year spell at the club, scoring 79 goals in 316 games. He won three Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two League Cups.
Former coach also under the radar
Der Spiegel also alleged that Italian coach Roberto Mancini received secret payments to boost his wages via a shadow contract that was a consultancy arrangement with Abu Dhabi-based club Al Jazira. The charges faced by Manchester City will now be dealt with by the independent commission, and the club has stated that it will be defending itself robustly.
The charges come as a major blow to Manchester City, who have dominated English football in recent years and have won six major trophies in the past three seasons. The club’s reputation is also at risk as it has been accused of flouting financial regulations in a bid to gain an advantage on the pitch. The outcome of the case will be watched closely by the football world and could have far-reaching implications for the club, its owners and its management.