Manchester City are believed to have been cleared of breaching rules around the signing of a teenage Argentine footballer in news that will clear the way for the club to keep spending this summer as they bid to build on their extraordinary title success.
The Premier League champions were facing the threat of a two window transfer embargo after being accused by Velez Sarsfield, an Argentine club, of flouting transfer rules in the signing of attacking midfielder, Benjamin Garre, in 2016.
But it is understood that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) have now found in City’s favour more than nine months after the landmark course case was heard. Velez will have a technical right to appeal although it is unclear at this stage if the Argentine club will go down that route. City are thought to have been informed of the news on Tuesday morning.
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Velez Sarsfield had claimed City acted unethically by approaching Garre when was still 15 and then broke rules by signing the attacking midfielder days after his 16th birthday.
Fifa had upheld City’s argument that Garre was free to join them after his 16th birthday because he holds an Italian passport but Velez alleged that Fifa rules only allow players under 18 to move between clubs in European countries. Velez also took Fifa to CAS after the world governing body rejected an initial complaint from the South American club in September 2016. City believed they had always acted within the rules and had also felt they were on strong ground given that Fifa ratified the transfer and CAS have now ruled in favour of the English club and Fifa.
The case was heard in July last year and a verdict was originally due to be delivered last autumn. However, the complex nature of the case resulted in the outcome being significantly delayed.
Bernardo Bertelloni, the Velez club secretary, claimed in an interview last year that Garre - who is the grandson of Oscar Garre, a member of Argentina’s 1986 World Cup winning squad - left Velez a couple of days before his 16th birthday and spent a few days in Germany before entering England one day after his 16th birthday.
He also said Txiki Begiristain, the City director of football, wrote to Velez in June last year, a fortnight before Garre’s 16th birthday, to explain that the player and his parents had taken the decision to join City. Velez responded by stating their “express refusal” and warning City that they would be in breach of Fifa rules but CAS are since understood to have ruled that the transfer was above board.
Meanwhile, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Schalke are among the clubs to benefit financially from City’s title win with the triumph triggering a series of additional transfer payments.
Tottenham will receive £1.5 million from City under the terms of the projected £50 million deal that took England right back Kyle Walker from Spurs to the Etihad Stadium last summer.
Liverpool will net a £1 million windfall from Raheem Sterling’s transfer to City in 2015, which cost an initial £44 million. Schalke will earn €1 million (£865,000) from Leroy Sane’s transfer from the German club to City in 2016. Sane cost City an initial £37 million but with a further £5 million payable in assorted add ons. The fees for some signings were paid up front and did not involve add-ons.
City’s players will receive huge bonuses for winning the championship. The traditional pool split is no longer in operation with players now earning varying sums depending on the terms of their individual contracts since City have favoured a move to heavily incentivised deals that reward success.
Midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, for example, will receive a £500,000 bonus for winning the title, in addition to an £800,000 bonus he had previously triggered for completing more than 60 per cent of City’s league games this season. He had already earned a £100,000 bonus for winning the League Cup. It is thought other senior players such as Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Vincent Kompany will receive similar amounts to De Bruyne for winning the title.