Yaya Toure’s former agent Dimitri Seluk has denied receiving secret payments from Man City while the midfielder was at the Etihad Stadium.
The Premier League issued a statement on its website on Monday announcing the Citizens – who have won the competition six times since 2011 – had been referred to an independent commission in respect of a series of alleged breaches of rules related to club finances.
The alleged breaches concerned the reporting of accurate financial information, the submission of details of manager and player pay information within the relevant contracts, a club’s responsibility as a Premier League member to adhere to UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations and to the league’s own profitability and sustainability regulations.
Man City are also alleged to have breached rules requiring them to co-operate and assist with the Premier League’s investigation into those breaches, which the league says began in December 2018.
The club issued a statement expressing surprise at the announcement of the alleged rule breaches, which referred to “extensive engagement” with the Premier League on the matter. The club also said they held “irrefutable evidence” in support of their position.
Allegations that Toure’s former agent Seluk received secret payments from Sheikh Mansour’s Abu Dhabi United Group are reportedly among the 100-plus list of alleged breaches.
When the allegations were put to him, Seluk said (via The Guardian): “No, everything was transparent, there was nothing on the back side. I am interested to see what happens as this was a surprise. Yaya paid everything – tax and everything. It was all transparent.”
When put to him if he would be happy to speak to the independent commission, Seluk added: “Of course. I would tell them the same.”
Former FA-registered lawyer Dr Gregory Ioannidis, who is now Course Leader of the Master’s Programme LLM International Sports Law in Practice at Sheffield Hallam University, insists Man City will not be able to use the same defences that saw them survive their legal defences against UEFA.
Ioannidis told Football Insider: “The rules do not provide for time-bar, nor do they provide for appeal to CAS.”
On whether City could potentially face being stripped of previous title wins, Ioannidis added: “That depends on the seriousness of the alleged offence and whether it can be proven.
“The standard of proof is to the ‘comfortable satisfaction of the tribunal, which is below the criminal standard of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ but above the civil standard of the ‘balance of probabilities.’”
On the possible timescale to reach a conclusion, Ioannidis continued: “Sometimes, disciplinary sports tribunals apply the relevant rules of evidence in a more relaxed manner, as long as the evidence in question has probity and relevance.
“It is possible this could spark a chain reaction [of legal action] from clubs who have, say, missed out on Champions League qualification.
“But any third party would have to show a legal interest in the case and that any decision taken will affect such third party.
“In terms of how long proceedings might take, each case must be considered according to its individual facts and characteristics, so it won’t be prudent to consider precedent in terms of the time limits.
“Sport disciplinary tribunals are usually fast in terms of their decision-making. However, it would all depend on the amount of evidence against the accused.
“The number of witnesses and their testimonies the tactics and strategies the accused will deploy in order to delay proceedings, the admissibility of evidence and many more will be considered.
“I would personally find it difficult for this matter to be concluded before the end of the season.”
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