April 07 News German Der Spiegel published a long investigative column report that they obtained full copies of multiple contracts from Premier League club Manchester City.
2. The so-called “sponsor sponsorship” provided by the club owner.
Pierce has played a major role in the main UEFA and Premier League allegations against Manchester City – the covert sponsorship by club owner Sheikh Mansour.
As a member of the board of directors, he controls the club’s business and also acts as a special adviser to the head of the institution, Hosni Mubarak.
Pierce is responsible for liaison with a number of club sponsors in the UAE and is also the contact for members of Manchester City’s finance department regarding contract details and payments in Abu Dhabi.
In 2018, Der Spiegel published a series of articles about backdated contracts, sudden cash injections and “alternative sources” related to sponsorship payments.
The investigations describe how Sheikh Mansour apparently circumvented the rules by disguising direct funding to clubs as sponsorship payments.
The money in question was apparently sent to companies in Abu Dhabi who then wired the money to the club.
The system is claimed to allow clubs to claim less direct investment from owners for a higher total marketing revenue – in direct violation of UEFA’s FFP rules.
The rules are designed to prevent clubs from living beyond their means, running into financial trouble or distorting competition on the pitch.
Clearly the rules have failed and now they will be replaced by a new set of rules.
As a result of this series of articles, UEFA banned the club from the Champions League for two years.
But the club successfully appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which ruled that some of the allegations fell within the statute of limitations and UEFA could not produce any evidence other than the report published by Der Spiegel.
In addition, Manchester City also provided eyewitnesses who vehemently denied UEFA’s allegations.
In its ruling, CAS said there was no reason to believe the witnesses were lying.
One of the witnesses was Simon Pierce.
Asked by the court whether he had “arranged for payments by Ittihad in connection with Manchester City FC’s sponsorship obligations?” he replied: “Absolutely not.”
The 67-page collection of transcripts shows:
In 2012, part of the sponsorship money from Abu Dhabi was internally registered as “owner investment”, totaling £150m.
In 2013, Pierce asked Chief Financial Officer Jorge Chumillas to provide an overview of ADUG’s payment obligations and asked for an allocation in the direction of “direct club payments” and “partner supplementary payments”.
The documents make clear the importance of the additional supplementary payments, with Pierce making it clear in an email to Chamlias that the Ittihad only need to pay £8m of the £67.5m total sponsorship fee.
According to the email, the remaining £59.5m was paid in extra, possibly by Sheikh Mansour.
In the 2013-2014 season alone, the “subsidy” paid by Abu Dhabi reached 92.5 million pounds.
In early 2013, then-treasurer Andrew Widdowson warned that information relating to these supplementary payments should not be shared with outsiders.
In 2014, Chamlias and Vidhosen discussed the funds still to be paid by Abu Dhabi sponsors Aabar and Etisalat.
Here, too, they differentiate between the amount paid by ADUG and the amount the company itself is responsible for.
“But practically, formally, we want all these payments to be made by Aabar and Etisalat, right?” Chamlias wrote. The answer: “Yes, if they can.”
Also in September 2015, club representatives made a distinction between a £60.25m payment and £8m which the Etihad “should directly finance”.
Chamlias and Pierce exchanged emails again to discuss the company’s share of the sponsorship money that would be provided “directly.”
The rest apparently came from the budget of shareholder ADUG-Mansour.
In March 2016, another £8 million was linked to an Etihad Airways sponsorship.
City, Aabar and Etisalat did not respond to requests for comment.
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