SBC’s On The Ball – The leaks that rocked football

From sponsorship to the ever-expanding world of football media coverage, when it comes to the business of football, SBC has you covered. This edition picks out some of the key stories from the leaks by German magazine Der Spiegel.

Leaks, leagues and deceit

The leaks of German magazine Der Spiegel sent shock waves through world football, unearthing information that could thrust the financial integrity of football clubs back into the forefront of the media attention.

The information was most damning about French champions PSG, as well as Premier League holders Manchester City, however what’s most surprising is not the club’s alleged eagerness to disregard the financial fair play guidelines, but the reported willingness of FIFA President Gianni Infantino to accommodate the breaching of the rules.

The reports claimed that the Manchester club were cooking the books when it came to sponsorships, with £59.5m of the £67.5m worth of income from its Etihad partnership being essentially financed by the club’s owner Sheik Mansour.

The leaks also detailed that both PSG and Manchester City posted losses in excess of £150m and breached financial fair play rules, however Infantino aided the two clubs when it come to avoiding severe footballing sanctions.

In an email allegedly written by Infantino to City’s chairman, Khaldoon al-Mubarak, Infantino, who at the time was Uefa’s general secretary outlined a possible settlement by stating: “You will see that I’ve sometimes chosen a wording which ‘looks’ more ‘strong.’”

Further concerning news for football fans coming from the leaks was in regards to potential plans for a European breakaway league, spearheaded by Real Madrid, AC Milan, Arsenal, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Manchester United the report claimed the league was in the works for as early as 2021.

It is believed that the league would be made up of 11 founding members, who would be the teams listed above, as well as Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Paris St-Germain, these sides would all avoid relegation from the league.

Additionally, it was reported that five initial guests could be invited into the league, these would be Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Marseille and Roma.

Bayern Munich responded to the claims, stating the club was “unaware of recent plans for a so-called Super League” and denied “taking part in negotiations relating to such plans”.

The club’s chairman continued: “FC Bayern Munich stands by its membership of the Bundesliga and, as long as I am chairman of the board of FC Bayern, also by the club competitions organised jointly by Uefa and the ECA (European Club Association).”

VAR in the Premier League

The Premier League has joined the Uefa Champions League and has voted to introduce Video Assistant Referees from next season.

The Premier League issued the following update: “Non-live testing programme will remain in place for the rest of this season, with a continued emphasis on those Saturday afternoons which have several matches being played concurrently and developing a clear protocol for communicating VAR decisions to fans.”

Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey, commented on BBC Radio 5 live’s Afternoon Edition: “I think it is a good thing. I know a lot of people are against it but we’ve got to embrace it now and move forward.

“We’ve seen this season a number of incidences that have been called wrong, especially this weekend when there were a number of goals ruled out when they shouldn’t have been.

“I think as long as we get the training and education right, and we get the right personnel, that’s the most important thing for me.

“The referees will still want to go out and get the key match decisions right, it’s very important that referees are not hiding behind the VAR – they’ve still going to be making these big calls correctly.”

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