London (AFP) – Manchester City could still face huge player bonus bills if they lose an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against a two-year European ban by UEFA, according to revelations in the British media Tuesday.
Many of City players have bonuses written in their contracts for Champions League qualification and performance. In some cases, those run into millions, the Daily Mail reported.
UEFA’s financial fair play compliance body, the CFCB, banned City from the Champions League for two seasons on Friday and fined the club 30 million euros ($32.5 million).
It had concluded the club was not being truthful in its submissions from 2012-16 that Etihad Airlines wholly funded its annual £67.5 million ($88 million) sponsorship.
Should the appeal — which the club’s CEO Ferran Soriano says in an email will be lodged soon — fail it would see City lose out on a minimum of £150 million a season for qualifying.
The Daily Telegraph reported that the club promised to sue UEFA “for the next 10 years.” The Guardian meanwhile said it had unearthed more evidence that the club had fudged figures on the sponsorship.
Club executives have been meeting with the players and their representatives and discussing how they would make up any losses in earnings. The club have told the players not to panic.
City fear rivals could try to lure players with low bids and the promise Champions League football.
Soriano remains bullish the club will win their appeal in an email sent to staff that was seen by the Daily Mail.
“It is important to recognise that this is not the end,” wrote Soriano.
“There is more to come. We are confident that with a fair and independent hearing we will prevail,” added the 52-year-old Spaniard.
– ‘Everybody do the Poznan’ –
Another email from club lawyer Simon Cliff says Khaldoon Al Mubarak, the City chairman, intends to carry on fighting even if they lose their appeal.
“Khaldoon said he would rather spend £30 million on the 50 best lawyers in the world to sue them for the next 10 years,” wrote Cliff as cited by The Daily Telegraph.
City manager Pep Guardiola is expected to confirm he will stay — at the very least till his present contract ends in 2021 — when he gives his first press conference since the affair broke after the Premier League game with West Ham on Wednesday.
“Look, whatever league we are in, I will still be here,” Guardiola told the players when they met up last Saturday after their mini break according to Sky Sports News.
The Guardian, though, says it has dug out a document from 2015 produced by a US aviation industry alliance which in turn quoted a report by consultants written for the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi in 2010. The consultants stated that the Abu Dhabi government, not Etihad airlines, was “covering” the sponsorship of Manchester City.
“While Etihad asserts that it funded the $640m (total) cost of the sponsorship of Manchester City ‘from its own liquidity,’ it provides no such evidence,” read the document.
“An internal study that (the consultants) prepared for the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, states that the Executive Council of Abu Dhabi –- not Etihad -– covers the cost.”
Meanwhile the club’s fans plan to show their anger at UEFA when Real Madrid visit for their Champions League Last 16 second leg clash on Wednesday next week.
They are to unfurl new anti-UEFA banners, for which a crowd-funding appeal has raised £4,500 so far, and also do a ‘Poznan’ protest.
Lech Poznan fans turned their backs on the field of play during a Europa League match against Manchester City in 2011 as part of an ongoing feud with UEFA.
“Everybody do the Poznan: turn your back on UEFA and be together as one,” said Kevin Parker of the City Supporters Club.
“We want to show the football world that you’re taking on all of us.”
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