Manchester City have become embroiled in further allegations regarding their Financial Fair Play (FFP) conduct this week.
Mail on Sunday reports
A series of exclusive reports from the Mail on Sunday reveal what they have branded as 'smoking gun emails' that could indicate that the Premier League giants have fallen foul of FFP regulations.
Writer Nick Harris explained in a Twitter thread on Saturday night that it had come to the media's attention earlier this year that City and the Premier League had been embroiled in a two-year legal battle.
Legal 'gags' had initially prevented the publication of the news, but the Mail on Sunday eventually got a judge to rule that reporters could attend court hearings in the interest of 'open justice'.
Harris than added that three of Britain's senior judges ruled on Tuesday that the Citizen's secret legal battle with the Premier League could be made public, which has led to the subsequent reports.
Emails that 'could prove' City broke rules
One of the key details carried in the newspaper concerns an alleged 2011 email by a senior executive in the sports sponsorship team at Etihad Airways composed for an employee in the 'partnerships' department at City.
The email reportedly reads: "Dear [XXX] … there seems to be some confusion about an outstanding balance of the sponsorship fee for the 2010/11 season.
"As you are aware. Etihad's commitment is for £4million and the remaining balance (£8m) is handled separately by the [UAE] Executive Affairs Authority. Please can you clarify this to your accounts department and pick it up direct with the EAA in due course. Kind regards."
The Mail on Sunday clarify that they are aware of both the sender and principal recipient of the email, but explain that both individuals have since moved on to different spheres of business.
To clarify the provenance of the email, the Mail on Sunday note that they have seen corroborating paperwork that City invoiced Etihad Airways for £12 million for the 2010/11 shirt sponsorship deal.
However, the invoice is alleged to have included a hand-written annotation explaining that Etihad themselves were only due to stump up £4 million.
The EAA, who are alleged to have paid the difference between the £12 million and £4 million, claim to provide 'provide strategic policy' for His Highness Sheik Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
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In other words, the MoS explain that correspondence and paperwork suggest that a 'UAE entity serving Sheik Mohamed' was paying for the money invoiced to Etihad as opposed to the airline.
This allegedly suggests that City have benefitted from inordinately high sponsorship deals emanating from entities in the UAE, which appear to run contrary to FFP rules.
Reports of this arrangement can also be traced back to 2014 when a source is said to have told the Mail on Sunday that a state entity was funding most of Etihad's 10-year £340m sponsorship deal.
The allegations run parallel to leaked materials from Der Spiegel, which purport to show wrongdoing from City, upon which the current Premier League investigation is said to be based.
A further email reportedly leaked by the German newspaper last year is said to be from non-executive City director Simon Pearce and sent to Peter Baumgartner, who worked for Etihad at the time.
A section of the email notes: "we' (City) 'should be receiving £99m — of which you [Etihad] will provide £8m. I therefore should have forwarded £91m and instead have sent you only £88.5m. I effectively owe you £2.5m."
Away from the emails, Harris also reported in the Mail on Sunday that Football Leaks hacker Rui Pinto will assist the Premier League's enquiry into City's alleged breaching of rules.