Manchester City have threatened to sue La Liga chief Javier Tebas following incendiary claims that the club “cooked the books” with regards to players sent on loan to Girona during the transfer window.
The ill-considered remarks from Tebas – a controversial figure at the best of times – come after City loaned the quintet of Pablo Maffeo, Aleix Garcia, Marlos Moreno, Douglas Luiz and Larry Kayode to the La Liga newcomers.
The 55-year old La Liga President has accused City and Girona of undervaluing the players, in order to give the Catalan club an unfair advantage in the Spanish top flight.
Girona paid no loan fees to City and, whilst this is a fairly uncommon practice for Spanish football, it is wholly in keeping with City’s approach to certain loan deals.
It more than makes sense for youngsters Maffeo, Garcia and Moreno – all aged 20 – and Luiz, 19, to develop their talents and pit their wits against the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid – not just giants of Spanish football, but also major contenders in the Champions League.
Mighty Atletico were lucky to escape from Girona’s compact 13,500 capacity Estadi Municipal de Montilivi stadium with a 2-2 draw in the opening set of La Liga fixtures. Madrid’s Antoine Griezman was sent off, as Girona battled for a much deserved point.
A subsequent 1-0 win over Malaga and two narrow defeats to Athletico Bilbao and Sevilla has given rise to optimism that the newcomers could survive their La Liga debut season. Girona currently sit 14th in the table, having missed a last minute penalty which, had it been converted, would have earned a 1-1 draw against Sevilla on Sunday.
Tebas alleges that the four City youngsters, along with 24-year old Nigerian striker Kayode – the top scorer in Austrian football, bought by City from Austria Vienna and immediately loaned out – were all put on Girona’s books at below their market value.
La Liga subsequently intervened and forced Girona to register the players at what they believed was their true worth.
Clubs in Spain’s top flight are restricted in the amount of money they can spend, with the total value of players on their books, their respective salaries, and other associated expenses all taken into account.
Tebas claims City and Girona tried to circumvent the rules, thereby giving Girona the chance to sign more players.
Girona are a generous 50/1 to finish in the top four in the La Liga betting, especially with the City Football Group purchasing a 44.3% stake in the club last month. This matches the stake already held by Pep Guardiola’s brother Pere, with both City and Girona reportedly confident the partnership will be mutually beneficial to all parties.
City are far from happy with Tebas’ accusations, saying: “Mr Tebas’ statements are ill-informed and in parts pure fiction. As you would expect, Manchester City Football Club and the City Football Group are seeking appropriate legal counsel and will act accordingly on that advice.”
City weren’t the only ones to suffer the wrath of Tebas, with the La Liga chief also accusing Paris Saint German of “financial doping” after signing the two most expensive players in world football, in Kylian Mbappe from Monaco on an initial loan deal, (reputedly costing £165m next summer) and Neymar, at a fee of £200m from Barcelona.
One can only begin to imagine Tebas’ reaction if – and it’s an almighty big IF – if Lionel Messi left Spanish football on a Bosman next summer…destination Manchester City!
La Liga recently confirmed in a statement that they have written letters of complaint to UEFA regarding PSG and Manchester City’s financial dealings, with Tebas claiming that PSG, in particular, “are laughing at the system”, whilst also arguing that City and PSG’s “funding by state-aid distorts European competitions and creates an inflationary spiral that is irreparably harming the football industry”.
It doesn’t take the most cynical mind to label this a bit rich coming from a league where state-aid funding has been prevalent for years and it would appear that despite City’s previous FFP breach, they have more of a legal case against Tebas than he has against them.
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