Man City owners used marketing firm to reroute cash, leaked files show

A new set of leaked documents has heaped further accusations of financial foul play on Premier League champions Manchester City.

A second expose from whistle-blowers Football Leaks, as seen by German magazine Der Spiegel, alleges that owner Sheikh Mansour’s Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG) used a sports marketing firm as a front to channel millions of pounds into the club.

The accusations centre on Fordham Sports Management, a company set up by Jonathan and David Rowland, of the global wealth management firm Rowland Family Trust.

According to the leaks, ADUG transferred millions of pounds to the Rowlands every year, who then used that money to buy the club’s marketing rights – including player image rights – through Fordham Sports Management.

In 2013, Jonathan Roland allegedly wrote to club executive and adviser to the Abu Dhabi ruling family Simon Pearce: “Regarding the ongoing operating costs, every year we will send in advance the cash of approximately 11 million.” The “we” reportedly refers to ADUG.

Pearce later joked to a colleague in another email: “I have ended up as the de facto MD (managing director) for ADUG.”

The revelation comes on the back of other leaks alleging that ADUG paid £59.5m of Etihad Airways’ annual £67.5m sponsorship fee in 2015, with only £8m coming from the airline.