Manchester City fans should give the UEFA Champions League anthem “a big clap” next time they hear it.
This is the view of Der Spiegel editor Christoph Winterbach, who exclusively spoke to talkSPORT about the German publication’s ground-breaking revelations that Manchester City hid millions of pounds to avoid breaking Financial Fair Play rules.
This is the latest of a number of stories produced by Der Spiegel on leaked documents they have received including discussions among some of Europe’s top clubs to launch a new European Super League within three years.
However, City have found themselves in the firing line with regards to a story published on Monday suggesting they were handed a generous deal by UEFA when they were being investigated for breaching FFP rules.
The investigation led to discontent with European football’s governing body from City fans but the leaks suggest that UEFA secretary general at the time Gianni Infantino helped City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak negotiate a settlement deal between the two – something that has highly favoured City.
Speaking to Paul Coyte and David Kitson on talkSPORT 2, Winterbach said: “With Manchester City we focused on their breach of Financial Fair Play regulations which were adopted in 2013 by UEFA and UEFA tried to get a more competitive balance in the league and to try and prevent clubs from making big losses.
“Manchester City breached these regulations and this matter went to the investigatory chamber in UEFA and it was such a massive thing City had to fear they were being excluded from the Champions League.
“But secretary general at the time, Gianni Infantino, who is now FIFA president, allegedly helped Khaldoon Al Mubarak negotiate a settlement deal between UEFA and Man City and they got very favourable terms given the amount of breach they committed.
“What we published today and yesterday are more details that UEFA didn’t have in those investigations and show how Man City systematically started, when FFP regulations started, to shift costs away from the club.
“I guess UEFA helped Manchester City because they felt threatened by the legal threats which seems plausible.
“Manchester City were adamant that if they felt they got sanctioned too hard, they would sue them.
“At one point, Al Mubarak emailed Infantino to say he would rather spend 30million euros for ten years to sue UEFA than pay any sanction because Manchester City said they didn’t consider those rules to be fair.
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“If you have one of the biggest clubs with some of the biggest stars in football not in your competition, then that just looks wrong and there might be a problem with TV revenue.
“You can see why UEFA are hesitant to sanction the bigger clubs. They have sanctioned the smaller clubs.
“Man City got very favourable terms which they celebrated as it didn’t materially affect the club. UEFA didn’t even know the full scope of what they were doing.
“Manchester City fans should give UEFA a big clap next time they hear it [the Champions League anthem]!”
Winterbach discussed Friday’s story which talks about how seven clubs (Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Barcelona, Manchester United, Arsenal and AC Milan) gathered to discuss plans to create a new European Super League.
He claimed the official spin of the clubs in question was not in tandem with what the details of the documents suggests.
Winterbach added: “The official spin of some of the clubs responding to our articles has been so far that they never seriously considered forming a Super League.
“But what we’ve seen is that many clubs got into details about what company would organise a Super League, where would be the best country for it to be played? How much to pay the managers?
“That doesn’t sound like something that you’re not even considering.”