Man City CEO calls allegations "untrue" and "about politics"
Manchester City hopes for a verdict this season in its appeal against a two-year European ban, club CEO Ferran Soriano said Wednesday. City is expected to file a formal challenge against UEFA within days at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. "Well the most important thing I have to say today is that the allegations are not true. They are simply not true," he said.
UEFA ruled on Friday that City had committed "serious breaches" of their Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations and failed to cooperate with their investigation, handing them a two year ban and a 30 million euro ($32.40 million) fine.
City, who have denied wrongdoing, said they intend to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
In an interview on the club's website, Soriano, addressed the ban for the first time.
"Well the most important thing I have to say today is that the allegations are not true. They are simply not true," he said.
The Adjudicatory Chamber of UEFA's Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) said City had broken the rules by "overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016" and added that the club "failed to cooperate in the investigation".
"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," said the Spaniard.
"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."
UEFA opened their investigation into City after the publication of internal club emails and documents were made public by the Football Leaks project and various media outlets.
The Abu Dhabi United Group, the investment vehicle owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is the majority owner of the City Football Group, with a stake of around 77%.
Soriano denied that City had incorrectly reported their sponsorship deals.
"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 scrutinized many times, by auditors, by regulators, by investors and this is perfectly clear," he said.
"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."
Soriano said he hoped that resolution of the case would help City to deal with the arguments of their critics.
"I am also looking for the end of this process maybe to put a pen 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," he said.
The City chief also addressed the impact of the case on the club's manager Pep Guardiola.
"Obviously, he has been kept informed about this process but this is not something for him to respond to. He is focussed on the football, he is focussing on the game, the game at hand, the game today, tomorrow and the next weeks," Soriano said.
"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 matter."
City are second in the Premier League which would at the end of the season qualify them for the Champions League. However, as it stands they will not be able to compete next season, unless they succeed in overturning the ban during their appeal at CAS or 'freezing' the sanction until the end of the appeal hearing.