Liverpool chiefs are among a group of American owners in English football’s top flight who pushed the Premier League to join UEFA in investigating allegations of financial cheating by Manchester City.
On Thursday UEFA announced that they are investigating the English champions after the publication of leaked documents that point to possible breaches of Financial Fair Play regulations.
And yesterday the Premier League confirmed they are also investigating, issuing a statement explaining they had asked City for information while having an ongoing dialogue with the club.
Pressure on the Premier League to act has come principally from the American owners of clubs such as Liverpool and Crystal Palace. They came into English football from US sports where there has long been a culture of strict financial regulation.
The Americans with stakes in Premier League clubs — Manchester United, Arsenal, Fulham and Bournemouth as well as Liverpool and Palace — have interests in teams across American football, basketball, ice hockey and football.
The NBA was the first major American sport to introduce financial regulations such as salary caps
in 1984, with the NFL introducing their own regulations a decade later. That meant owners came into English football expecting to find a similar culture and therefore want any potential breaches investigated and, if proven, to be met with appropriate sanctions.
The Times reported yesterday that as many as a dozen clubs are planning to write to the Premier League. An approach of that kind is more likely than a direct complaint at a Premier League shareholders meeting, given that clubs tend to shy away from confrontation in that environment.
Complaints have nevertheless been made, with Palace prominent among those agitating. Two of their joint owners, Josh Harris and David Blitzer, own the New Jersey Devils in the NHL and Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA.
The Premier League statement said: ‘The Premier League has previously contacted Manchester City to request information regarding recent allegations and is in ongoing dialogue with the club. The League has detailed financial regulations and strong rules in the areas of Academy player recruitment and third-party ownership.
‘We are investigating these matters and will allow Manchester City every opportunity to explain the context and detail surrounding them.’
City, owned by Sheik Mansour, maintain they have done nothing wrong, claiming that leaked documents published by the German publication Der Spiegel have been hacked and taken out of context. This week they said they welcomed the UEFA investigation.
There are now four investigations into City. The FA are probling allegations that the club paid Jadon Sancho’s agent a fee when signing him from Watford when he was 14. FIFA are also looking into alleged breaches of third-party ownership rules.