The FA is investigating allegations that, when City signed Sancho from Watford in 2015 when the England winger was just 14, they concealed a £200,000 payment to the player’s agent, Emeka Obasi, as a contract for him to scout players from South and Central America. Agents are not permitted to represent players until they are 16. Obasi has yet to respond when invited to comment.
If City are found to have made any illegal payments then Watford could pursue a claim, which would run into millions, via arbitration for the “loss of opportunity”. Watford received just £200,000 in compensation when Sancho joined City as part of a set tariff determined by the Premier League’s elite player performance plan – £25,000 for each year he spent at the club’s category-two academy – but he is now valued at around £100 million and Watford rate him as possibly the most promising player the club have ever discovered.
The Premier League cited its “detailed financial regulations and strong rules in the areas of academy player recruitment and third-party ownership” as the reasons behind its probe into City. It said it would allow City “every opportunity to explain the context and detail” surrounding those matters and remained in “ongoing dialogue” with the club. It comes amid reports that at least a dozen top-flight clubs are preparing to write to the Premier League to determine what action it intends to take over City’s alleged financial breaches.
With the exception of the Uefa investigation, City have not responded to the specifics raised in the other inquiries, but they have repeatedly stated that the “attempt to damage the club’s reputation is organised and clear”.
“We will not be providing any comment on out-of-context materials purported to have been hacked or stolen from City Football Group and Manchester City personnel and associated people,” City said in a statement.