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Wed 17 Aug 2011 01:08 PM

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UEFA confirms probe into Etihad, Man City deal

Chairman of football governing body says he has questions to ask over $642m deal

UEFA confirms probe into Etihad, Man City deal
Etihads $642m sponsorship deal with Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City is thought to be the biggest on record

European football’s governing body confirmed on Wednesday that it would be scrutinising a ten-year sponsorship deal between Manchester City Football Club and UAE airline Etihad.

The $642m deal will provide a boost to Manchester City’s bottom line, after the Abu Dhabi-owned club announced losses of $342m over the last two years. But complaints that the amount of money involved is out of proportion with the scale of the deal have been circulating since the contract was announced in July.

“I have some questions, yes,” Jean-Luc Dehaene, the chairman of UEFA’s Club Financial Control Panel, told The Guardian newspaper.

“If we see clubs that are looking for loopholes we will act. It is not enough to say: 'We've got a sponsorship contract and that's OK' if the contract is out of line,” he added.

Etihad’s deal with Manchester City will see the English club’s Eastlands home ground renamed the Etihad Stadium, effective immediately.

The contract also extends the state-backed airline’s sponsorship of the team’s shirts.

Arsenal football manager has said the Etihad deal “raises the real question about the credibility of financial fair play,” reported the newspaper.

Ian Ayre, Liverpool's managing director, reportedly asked if Etihad, City and Sheikh Mansour were related parties. “If they are, it's up to UEFA to rule on them,” he said.

UEFA’s new Financial Fair Play rules – which were set up to ensure that clubs live within their means – mandates that teams may not lose more than $64m over the three years to 2014-2015.

All clubs must also effectively break even by 2018 or risk being ejected from European competition. 

Manchester City’s latest financials, due in September, are expected to be worse than the previous financial year despite an increase in turnover, said The Guardian. 

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