Manchester City are considering legal action against La Liga president Javier Tebas after he accused the club of “financial doping” and “cooking the books” by manipulating the price of players loaned to sister club Girona.
A club statement has dismissed his claims as “pure fiction.”
City Football Group completed the purchase of 44.3 percent of the Liga club last month, and five of Pep Guardiola’s players are spending the season at Girona: midfielder Douglas Luiz, winger Marlos Moreno, midfielder Aleix Garcia, full-back Pablo Maffeo and striker Olarenwaju Kayode.
“We had to correct certain market values that Manchester City was reporting for player loans to Girona,” said Tebas on Wednesday. “For our own reporting and financial fair play purposes, we increased the value of players loaned to Girona, so that loaning of players did not represent unfair competition.
“Let’s imagine Manchester City loans 11 players to Girona for one euro each, that would be outside market values. We have added value to those reported loans.”
Girona, like all clubs in Spanish football, have their budget set out for them for the season by the league. For the 2017-18 campaign, that was set at €80 million. Tebas admitted Girona had accepted the increased value of the players loaned from City.
A City source told ESPN FC no loan fee was charged for the five players and that Girona are paying all their wages. The club has a similar arrangement with Celtic for the loan of winger Patrick Roberts.
City are angry about comments made by Tebas on Wednesday. During an on-stage interview at the Soccerex conference he compared the club’s financial position with that of Paris Saint-Germain, who he accused of “peeing in the pool” in buying Neymar from Barcelona for €222m. He also accused UEFA of being too soft on those Arab-owned clubs after they were both sanctioned for breach of financial regulations in 2014.
He said: “If I remember correctly, PSG and Man City were sanctioned, but then the sanction was somehow reduced in some strange agreement that was not made public. La Liga at that time sent a letter to UEFA complaining about that situation.
“In our opinion, UEFA has not properly looked at the situation of Manchester City and PSG since that time or they would have sanctioned them again.”
The club source denied to ESPN FC that any such secret agreement had taken place and that City’s reduced sanction, after an initial fine of £49m and squad restrictions, resulted from the club proving to the governing body it was now playing by the rules.
On Monday, UEFA denied that City were under investigation after proceedings were opened against PSG on Friday. During the summer of 2017, City had a net spend of £138.1m and came close to signing Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez in a deal that would have reached £60m. The source said that a deal for West Brom’s Jonny Evans did not happen because of the club being unable to offload Eliaquim Mangala.
Tebas said the club’s transfer business was being raised by unrealistic sponsorship deals.
He said: “If Abu Dhabi and Qatar are behind PSG and Man City, that by itself is not a problem. The problem is that income — to be able to cover their costs — when they have commercial income that is not real. They have agreed on sponsorships that are above market price. And the important thing is that everything is market value. That’s when you have financial doping.”
A club spokeswoman told ESPN FC: “UEFA’s statement of the 4th of September is clear and based on accurate information.
“By contrast, Mr. Tebas’ statements are ill-informed and in parts pure fiction. As you would expect, Manchester City Football Club and the City Football Group are seeking appropriate legal counsel and will act accordingly on that advice.”