Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 11 July 2020

Manchester City CEO addresses European ban: 'Fans can be sure the allegations are false and we will stick together'

Soriano promises Pep Guardiola and players are 'calm' and focused on their football

Chief executive Ferran Soriano says allegations that Manchester City breached Uefa’s licensing and financial fair play regulations are "simply not true" and “irrefutable evidence” will be provided to prove the club’s innocence.

City were on Friday banned from European club competitions for the next two seasons and handed a €30 million (Dh118m) fine after an investigation by the independent Adjudicatory Chamber of the Club Financial Control Body (CFCB).

In response to the ruling, City will take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), and Soriano expects the decision to be overturned.

“The fans can be sure of two things. The first one is that the allegations are false, and the second is that we will do everything that can be done to prove so,” he said.

“We know the fans are supporting us. We can feel it. MCFC fans have gone through challenges over the decades. This is just another challenge. We will stick together, we will go through it and we will not let the fans down.”

The CFCB have claimed City broke Uefa rules by "overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to Uefa between 2012 and 2016". The Chamber also ruled that City “failed to cooperate in the investigation” – another allegation Soriano vehemently refutes.

“We did cooperate with this process,” he said. "We delivered a long list of documents and support that we believe is irrefutable evidence that the claims are not true.

“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.

“But at the end, this is an internal process that has been initiated and then prosecuted and then judged by this FFP chamber at UEFA.”

Concerned by a lack of impartiality in this case, City had raised their concerns with CAS during the investigation and accused Uefa in a statement released on Friday of a “flawed, consistently leaked … and prejudicial process”.

Following Uefa’s ruling and the completion of their investigation, City can return to CAS and officially begin the appeals process.

“We went to CAS mid process because it was clear to us that we were not having a fair process and we were concerned,” Soriano said. “We were specifically concerned about the leaks, the constant leak of information.

“CAS said there was merit in our complaint, they said that the leaks were ‘worrisome’, and they said they would judge it when process has finished. The process has finished now, we are going to CAS again.”

Soriano believes the matter will be resolved within the next few months, saying: “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. Until then for us, it is business as usual.”

Soriano also insisted that manager Pep Guardiola remains committed to the club and is “focused” on delivering success until the end of the season.

City, second in the Premier League table, will resume their bid for Champions League glory against Real Madrid in the round of 16 next week. They are also in the final of the League Cup, where they face Aston Villa, and are in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

“Obviously, [Guardiola] has been kept informed about this process but this is not something for him to respond to,” Soriano said.

“He is focused on the football, he is focusing on the game, the game at hand, the game today, tomorrow and the next weeks, 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 manner.”

Updated: February 19, 2020 06:15 PM

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