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Old Yesterday, 12:41 PM   #5641
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David Conn always does brilliant work about football and financials and its important to remember hes a City fan

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How 'leaked' emails and invoices led to Manchester City's ban from Europe

David Conn

Fri 14 Feb 2020 18.47 GMTLast modified on Sat 15 Feb 2020 09.16 GMT


Throughout the startling “leaks” of Manchester City’s internal emails in the German magazine Der Spiegel, and the resulting investigation by Uefa which led ultimately to Friday’s guilty finding and two-season Champions League ban and €30m (£25m) fine, City’s response has been uniform: scorn, outrage, denial.

The emails, splashed by Spiegel with evident relish across a series of exposés, punched into City’s expertly and expensively created modern image in three broad areas relating to Uefa’s financial fair play rules, which were introduced in 2011 to deter clubs from overspending.

First, and most damaging, were emails and accounting documents which appeared to show that City’s owner, Sheikh Mansour, of the Abu Dhabi ruling family, was mostly funding the huge, £67.5m annual sponsorship of the club’s shirt, stadium and academy by his country’s airline, Etihad. That created a perception that the Abu Dhabi hierarchy, in their drive to mega-spend on City attaining elite status while somehow complying with FFP rules, had deceived Uefa in their financial submissions. This serious trouble for City sprang from a tiny number of emails, a fraction of the documentary dump provided to Spiegel by its source, Rui Pinto, a Portuguese national now charged in his home country with 147 criminal offences including computer hacking, all of which he denies.

FFP rules limit the amount of money owners can put in to bankroll losses, encouraging top-division European clubs not to overspend on players’ wages and transfer fees and risk falling into financial crisis, and to spend within their revenues. Mansour started financing mega-losses on player signings and wages after his 2008 takeover and City had scrambled, particularly following the introduction of FFP in 2011, to turbo-boost their revenues with large sponsorships from Abu Dhabi companies.

One of the emails, from City’s then chief financial officer, Jorge Chumillas, headed “Cashflow”, stated that Mansour’s own company vehicle, the Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG), would be paying £57m as a “contribution to 13/14 sponsorship fee”, while only £8m was Etihad’s “direct contribution”. Then Chumillas sent invoices for Etihad, internally to the City executives Ferran Soriano and Simon Pearce, stating that for 2015-16, the Etihad sponsorship was £67.5m, of which “£8m should be funded directly by Etihad and £59.5 [sic] by ADUG”.

Following the Spiegel coverage, Uefa’s club financial control body (CFCB) investigatory chamber (IC) finally announced last March that it was launching an investigation, and City responded by saying they would comfortably prove that the accusations were “entirely false”. The IC, a panel of grandees chaired by Yves Leterme, a former Belgian prime minister, was clearly not convinced, however, after its inquiry which involved two days of hearings, and it charged the club in May. City responded with scorn, accusing the IC of ignoring “a comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence”, said the decision was the result of “mistakes, misinterpretations and confusions fundamentally borne out of a basic lack of due process”, and in effect accused the IC of being biased, running “a wholly unsatisfactory, curtailed, and hostile process”.

City expressed huge outrage that the IC’s pending decision to charge was leaked two days early – which was indeed embarrassing to Uefa – although the truth is that throughout the process, very little detail has leaked. The fact that the IC did charge City, though, made it self-evident that the hierarchy’s explanations, and whatever documentation they did provide, did not satisfy the IC that questions raised by the club’s own internal communications had been irrefutably answered.

The IC can reasonably have expected City to produce, for example, the internal replies to Chumillas’s stunning emails, which perhaps would show he had been corrected, or that in context it could be shown that it was simply, “irrefutably”, not the case that ADUG was funding the Etihad sponsorship. Instead, the IC clearly decided that the allegations had not been refuted, and sent them for determination by Uefa’s CFCB adjudicatory chamber, which is chaired by José Narciso da Cunha Rodrigues, a former general prosecutor in Portugal and judge at the European Court of Justice, and includes a leading British barrister, Charles Flint QC.

These public responses after the charges were laid were consistent with the second element exposed by the emails: how hostile and confrontational City had been to Uefa, and to FFP itself, throughout the process of compliance – at times distastefully so. FFP applied to all top-flight clubs across Europe competing in the Champions and Europa Leagues, seeking to encourage long-term football development and dampen player wage inflation, with detailed new regulations and a sophisticated reporting system developed by Uefa with blue-chip accountants.

City’s chairman, Khaldoon al-Mubarak, was never a major supporter of FFP, seeing it as a restraint of Mansour’s freedom to rebuild City by pouring money in, but the emails showed the resistance went further. It seemed as if the hierarchy had almost taken it personally, feeling that this whole FFP system was a protectionist move to stop Mansour’s extravagance challenging the established superclubs. Perhaps there was something of that in the support for FFP given by Bayern Munich and the German clubs in particular, but they were trying to maintain financial sustainability in the Bundesliga where most clubs are still ultimately controlled by supporters. They and many other clubs in Europe felt it was alien to the game’s traditions for Gulf sovereign investors to buy clubs and spend their way to success.

City perceived their plans for rapid accession to the Champions League elite were challenged by FFP, and persistently threatened a legal challenge. The club’s inhouse lawyer Simon Cliff wrote in one of the published emails that Mubarak had told Gianni Infantino, then Uefa’s general secretary, that he would not accept a financial sanction for exceeding the permitted €45m loss in 2012 and 2013, and said: “He would rather spend 30 million on the 50 best lawyers in the world to sue [Uefa] for the next 10 years.”

In 2014, the IC determined that City had a deficit of €180m over that two-year period, vastly in excess of the €45m permitted, and in May that year agreed a settlement which some at Uefa believed was too lenient. A day before that, the former chair of the IC, Jean-Luc Dehaene, a distinguished former prime minister of Belgium and senior EU politician, died aged 73, survived by his wife of 49 years and their four children. Spiegel quoted Cliff’s reaction to this news in an internal email, referring to the membership of the IC: “1 down, 6 to go.”

Since its exposure, no one from City has apologised for that email, apparently due to the stance that the emails were hacked, so the contents, however unfortunate, are not to be acknowledged.

The third element revealed in the leaked material did not mostly form part of the IC’s investigation, having been dealt with as part of the 2014 settlement, but it revealed the extent to which City had engaged in some creative accounting to persuade Uefa it had complied with the new “break-even” rules. Most of these restructurings had been spotted and disallowed by the IC and the consultants, PwC, it sent to peer into the detail.

Following the publication of the leaks, City refused to respond at all to Spiegel, the rest of the media and to Uefa, until the IC, having initially responded uncertainly, decided it had to investigate. City denounced the use of the emails as “out-of-context materials purportedly hacked or stolen”, and alleged there was an “organised and clear attempt to damage the club’s reputation”.

Spiegel anonymised its source as “John” in the coverage, and quoted him denying that he acquired his vaults of 70m documents from football strongholds as a result of hacks, saying he had good contacts. Within weeks he was identified as Pinto, now on remand in a Lisbon prison awaiting trial, charged with alleged hacking and other offences, although only against Portuguese clubs and institutions, not City or Uefa. Pinto acknowledged to Spiegel in December that there was hacking software on his computer, and “some of my acts may be considered illegal”, but denied he had committed criminal offences, saying: “I don’t consider myself a hacker.”

But for people, or organisations such as City, who find they are victims of leaks, or hacks, there is a deeply uncomfortable contradiction to the consequences. However justified their outrage, if the documents reveal possible wrongdoing, then regulators or governing bodies are duty bound to investigate.

Now, after a review of the evidence and a hearing last month, the AC has decided like the IC, that City’s hierarchy have been damned by their own internal material. For all the fury and belligerence of their response, the club have not explained away the impression and apparent evidence that they deceived European football’s governing body with their financial submissions, even while they were spending huge money to star in its glittering competition.
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Old Yesterday, 12:41 PM   #5642
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The key thing here surely is that these are the rules of the game and City signed up to them. The object is not to then try as hard as you can to find ways round the rules but to actually abide by them.

When you look at the integrity and calibre of some of the people involved in making this decision, for City to claim that this is a massive conspiracy takes a considerable amount of brass neck.

They are taking the Donald Trump route, 'deny everything no matter what the evidence and slander everyone involved in the process'. It is the route of chaos and anarchy.
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Old Yesterday, 12:43 PM   #5643
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Ian Herberts piece

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IAN HERBERT: Manchester City have established a reputation as a grubby club with under the table dealings... UEFA's two-year Champions League ban is SO right

It was the Fordham episode which perhaps best illustrates the struggle for transparency and truth in football and the reason why UEFA's decision to throw Manchester City out of European competition, with all the consequences that will have, is so right.

Several sources confirmed to me two years ago that City were raking in millions from image rights deals — despite having stated in documents filed at Companies House that they had sold that income stream in the 2012-13 season to a third-party company, Fordham Sports Image Rights, for £24.5million.

UEFA had been examining their spending from the summer of 2011, since when their gross outlay on players had been £185m. City needed every £24.5m they could lay their hands on to break even and comply with UEFA's financial fair play (FFP) rules.

The story will perhaps seem arcane and dry. The small financial details get crushed these days in the stampede for the next soundbite or headline. But it was fundamental to City's attempts to comply with the rules set out for any teams wishing to compete in the Champions League.

It was not one of those 'anonymous sources' disclosures, either.

Spanish financier Esteve Calzada, a close friend of City chief executive Ferran Soriano, confirmed to me that he had always been working on image rights deals for City — Kevin De Bruyne's, among others —when that entitlement had supposedly been sold off.

The publication of my story in The Independent brought down the full force of City's wrath. A demand from a specialist internet law firm that it be removed, that an apology for it be published and that I tweet out that apology.

It would have been an unprecedented level of 'contrition'. But we were not cowed. A detailed, 1,500-word defence of the story was sent by return. We heard no more from City or their lawyers on the matter. In November 2018, a cache of documents published by Football Leaks suggested that we had actually only half of the story.

City's owners, the Abu Dhabi United Group, were actually financing Fordham, according to the leaks — effectively paying part of the players' wages through the shell company which had paid City the £24.5m.

Not only were City boosting their income against the rules but reducing their headline wage bill as they did so.

City were not the only ones on the attack when the Fordham story was published.

Journalists who challenge the club know they invite dog's abuse on social media and that one was no different.

It is why what ensued after Associated Press journalist Rob Harris asked Pep Guardiola who paid his wages, at his post-match FA Cup final press conference at Wembley last year, had such a ring of familiarity.

The question was intended to establish whether Guardiola had been paid a separate fee by City to artificially reduce the club's wage bill, in the way that Football Leaks revealed that his predecessor Roberto Mancini was. And as the Fordham arrangement had.

Harris asked City, in writing, in November 2018 whether Guardiola was being paid in this way. If not, then 'no' would have been an extremely simple answer, protecting the manager from the indignity of having to answer for himself at Wembley. But no reply was forthcoming from City. The club have never been willing to say.

'Why not?' clubs like Liverpool and Arsenal have justifiably been asking, internally. Both those clubs have complied with FFP, cohering with the view that if you play in UEFA's competitions, you abide by their rules — whatever your views on them might be.

The question of Guardiola's salary is by no means the only one raised by the Football Leaks documents, which suggest an abundance of ways were found to deliver Abu Dhabi money to City under the table. A letter by City lawyer Simon Cliff jokes about the death of Jean-Luc Dehaene who was one of seven FFP overseers. 'One down, 6 to go,' Cliff joked. Grubby.

Those who pose the difficult questions should be applauded. The veteran New York Times reporter Seymour Hersh's memoir, published last year, was entitled, simply, Reporter because he laid claim to be nothing more than that. In it, he described the months of abuse he received after breaking the story of the United States' brutal killing of civilians at My Lai, in Vietnam. 'I would survive any criticism of a story I knew to be true,' he wrote.
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Old Yesterday, 12:45 PM   #5644
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The key thing here surely is that these are the rules of the game and City signed up to them. The object is not to then try as hard as you can to find ways round the rules but to actually abide by them.

When you look at the integrity and calibre of some of the people involved in making this decision, for City to claim that this is a massive conspiracy takes a considerable amount of brass neck.

They are taking the Donald Trump route, 'deny everything no matter what the evidence and slander everyone involved in the process'. It is the route of chaos and anarchy.
I again say its like taking part in the Olympic 100m final winning gold whilst taking performance enhancing drugs and then blaming the IOC for having anti-doping policies
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Old Yesterday, 02:07 PM   #5645
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Don’t think I’d want them 2 titles, if city are stripped of them- or at least I wouldn’t be celebrating them.. for me, this year will be #19 regardless... It would be nice to say that Stevie G won a PL medal though!

I think this would be a lot more bitter-sweet if we weren’t cruising to the title this year. After the 13/14 season,when Suarez left- you wonder would things have been different if we had won the league.. imagine if something similar happened this year and we fell away (granted we would have needed about 6 players to leave for that to happen, but hypothetically).

It’s annoying that an investigation from 2011 to 2016 takes until 2020 to be concluded... still think 17/18 mighta been ours too if we were just chasing United, we coulda been going for 3 in a row now!!
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Old Yesterday, 02:11 PM   #5646
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Don’t think I’d want them 2 titles, if city are stripped of them- or at least I wouldn’t be celebrating them.. for me, this year will be #19 regardless... It would be nice to say that Stevie G won a PL medal though!

I think this would be a lot more bitter-sweet if we weren’t cruising to the title this year. After the 13/14 season,when Suarez left- you wonder would things have been different if we had won the league.. imagine if something similar happened this year and we fell away (granted we would have needed about 6 players to leave for that to happen, but hypothetically).

It’s annoying that an investigation from 2011 to 2016 takes until 2020 to be concluded... still think 17/18 mighta been ours too if we were just chasing United, we coulda been going for 3 in a row now!!
Reading that article on BBC I'm not too optimistic, hope UEFA stands their ground, City will probably be a rather unpopular club if the keep this up, they are displaying levels of arrogance that are just astounding.
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Old Yesterday, 02:27 PM   #5647
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i'm not sure i want them to have a points deduction next season. Lets just say we won the league by 9 points but they had a 10 point deduction, then some of their fans and the media would point out that they were the best team that season.

I'd prefer a 2 year transfer ban for them. Would hurt them more!!!

Will be interesting to see what happens Pep now. He has come out and said he won't leave. But he only has another year on his contract. It might actually galvanise them and he might say "ok....lets use these 2 years to bring through some of these young players we have" - but that would require him to sign another contract. Which I doubt he will do.
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Old Yesterday, 02:29 PM   #5648
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I think he will leave. He has to say he wont leave right now, but if the ban is upheld (which it will be) then I think he will use that as the opportunity to leave.
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Old Yesterday, 02:47 PM   #5649
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I’m interested to know what kind of clauses (if any) these Coty players have in their contracts.

Imagine if a bunch of them have a 20% pay increase clause should City not qualify for the trophy they were promised they’d be winning?
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Old Yesterday, 02:55 PM   #5650
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This is a good read of how this might pan out....

Man City European ban: Why upcoming legal battle with Uefa is a watershed moment

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/51528427
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Old Yesterday, 03:06 PM   #5651
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But..

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Old Yesterday, 03:12 PM   #5652
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Its baffling their fans think they will be invited to play a breakaway league by clubs they are alleging are conspiring to keep them out of the Champions League
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Old Yesterday, 06:15 PM   #5653
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Talkshite radio right now dedicating the next hour to defending City. Hilarious.

So far they've spouted: City are fine to break the FPP rules etc because the rules are silly and were set up by evil traditionally strong clubs (G14) like Liverpool, Arsenal, Man United etc. It would take City 20+ years to catch up to the strong clubs if they didn't break the rules - claims that's not fair etc. Claim City are wonderful because their owners have spent millions improving the local community. City being strong is entertaining football fans - why would anyone want to stop that.
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Old Yesterday, 06:25 PM   #5654
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Talkshite radio right now dedicating the next hour to defending City. Hilarious.

So far they've spouted: City are fine to break the FPP rules etc because the rules are silly and were set up by evil traditionally strong clubs (G14) like Liverpool, Arsenal, Man United etc. It would take City 20+ years to catch up to the strong clubs if they didn't break the rules - claims that's not fair etc. Claim City are wonderful because their owners have spent millions improving the local community. City being strong is entertaining football fans - why would anyone want to stop that.
The progress of Leicester City must be a real bastard to any and all of those arguments.

Leicester managed to win the League and look competitive again for CL but with FFP compliance. Same goes for Spurs (exclude this year for their competitiveness) and Arsenal historically teams who have managed to fight near the top without breaking FFP rules.
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Old Yesterday, 06:39 PM   #5655
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i'm not sure i want them to have a points deduction next season. Lets just say we won the league by 9 points but they had a 10 point deduction, then some of their fans and the media would point out that they were the best team that season.

I'd prefer a 2 year transfer ban for them. Would hurt them more!!!

Will be interesting to see what happens Pep now. He has come out and said he won't leave. But he only has another year on his contract. It might actually galvanise them and he might say "ok....lets use these 2 years to bring through some of these young players we have" - but that would require him to sign another contract. Which I doubt he will do.
Was thinking the same myself.
Either relegation or transfer ban but no points deduction.
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Old Yesterday, 07:07 PM   #5656
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Also are the members of any new Super League going to be in favour of allowing clubs like City free reign in terms if spending powers

Surely they are going to impose their own version of FFP and learn from any mistakes made by UEFA
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Old Yesterday, 07:17 PM   #5657
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Nothing screams 'we're innocent' quite like a massive team of Lawyers
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Old Yesterday, 07:39 PM   #5658
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Its baffling their fans think they will be invited to play a breakaway league by clubs they are alleging are conspiring to keep them out of the Champions League
They're not in the 10 biggest sides in England, IMO, so aren't worthy of entry in to it anyway

Man Utd
Liverpool
Arsenal
Spurs
Newcastle
Chelsea
Leeds
Everton
Aston Villa
West Ham

All bigger than City once the oil money is stripped out
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Old Yesterday, 08:35 PM   #5659
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Was thinking the same myself.
Either relegation or transfer ban but no points deduction.
Relegation if they decide to go that way is one option, not sure a transfer ban would be appropriate, those tend to be for tapping up or transfer related issues.

There should be some serious fines, based on the increased revenue that they received by breaking the rules. Limitations on squad size should also apply, they have to meet the FFP rules as well, with no CL revenue, and those fines that would impact on their squad and probably force them to sell some players anyway.
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Old Yesterday, 09:04 PM   #5660
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They're latching on to the suggestion in The Times that us not being punished by the FA for the hacking thing means they won't be punished for the FFP. Obviously it being 3 years more recent, going on 5 times as long, and not having entered a settlement should be ignored and the situation considered the same
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Old Yesterday, 09:19 PM   #5661
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We didn’t hack
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Old Yesterday, 11:19 PM   #5662
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Plus, *they* accepted the compensation so that's case closed.
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Old Today, 09:16 AM   #5663
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Old Today, 09:29 AM   #5664
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Just came to post that, they are losing it.
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Old Today, 09:35 AM   #5665
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I just came in here to see what your thoughts were today my Icelandic friend
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Old Today, 09:40 AM   #5666
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I just came in here to see what your thoughts were today my Icelandic friend
Don't you all?
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Old Today, 11:11 AM   #5667
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Funny as fuck! hahaha
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Old Today, 11:15 AM   #5668
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Don't you all?
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Old Today, 01:02 PM   #5669
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There's been a couple of articles in the guardian that seems to have fired them up today!

A large proportion of them seem to be completely unhinged and unable to comprehend what the club is actually being accused of.

https://www.theguardian.com/football...ent-lying-down
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Old Today, 01:28 PM   #5670
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There's been a couple of articles in the guardian that seems to have fired them up today!

A large proportion of them seem to be completely unhinged and unable to comprehend what the club is actually being guilty of.

https://www.theguardian.com/football...ent-lying-down
Fixed for you. Sentence has been passed, therefore, guilty
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Old Today, 07:26 PM   #5671
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UEFA could look at more recent sponsorship deals
https://www.theguardian.com/football...nsors-football

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