Man City

28 January 2022 - 10:22 AM

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Exclusive: Another Manchester City sponsor with seemingly no staff, no active products and being run out of a mailbox in London

  • Investigation shows that Man City’s longstanding partners, Wega, have also been active in Qatar, where it launched the “eSports World Cup” with a $15m prize pot, although detail for the tournament has never materialised and officials claim no knowledge.
  • Last month Manchester City parted company with a crypto-sponsor after media reports revealed the company had no management team.
  • In this new case the fintech UK operating company, based out of a house near Watford, possesses assets of £1229 with a person of significant control based in UAE.
  • Why it matters: City’s sponsorships have been under scrutiny for years and in 2020 it was fined €10 million for failing to cooperate with UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body.
  • The perspective: With crypto, NFT, fintech and other new businesses investing in football, proper due diligence has never been more important for clubs. Expect more legal experts reviewing commercial partnerships at football clubs.


 

An Off The Pitch investigation has revealed another company, seemingly with no staff, no active products, barely any assets and whose operating company is registered to a mailbox in London, is a longstanding official partner to Manchester City.

It follows the cancellation last month by City of a partnership with a company called 3Key, after allegations were raised over the legitimacy of the cryptocurrency firm’s operations. 

City’s commercial dealings have long come under scrutiny by governing bodies, with City fined €10 million by UEFA in 2020 for failing to cooperate with its Club Financial Control Body. 

Wega, which is the name of the company, first signed as City’s “Club’s Official Acoustic Contactless Secured Card Payment partner” in 2015 and extended the deal four years later.

It has been involved in marketing activations with City in the past, but currently offers no products. 

The company has also been active in Qatar, where it launched the “eSports World Cup” to run in parallel with this year’s football finals with a purported $15 million prize pot, although detail for the tournament has never materialised and World Cup officials claim no knowledge of it.

Wega’s president, Patrick Moynier, said in a 2019 press statement that Wega was “a Fintech company offering an innovative digital financial platform.”

“Our technology and services will enhance the entire fan experience, and continuously add value with new features and opportunities to get closer to the heart of the club.”

Prepaid credit cards

However, a search of the company’s services reveals that rather than acting as an innovative fintech company, the extent of the company’s products are two pre-paid credit cards, provided under license by Mastercard, and marketed to supporters of Manchester City, and its partner MLS club, New York City. Neither are currently available. 

As part of the partnership, in 2019 Wega launched the “Wega City Supporter’s Card.” 

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Google Maps | Wega UK address, 61 Praed St London

Although there were a number of marketing activations in 2019 and 2020, the card is unobtainable, with card applications needing to be made via apps listed as available from the Apple App Store or Google Play. Neither marketplace currently lists the Wega app.

Manchester City were asked a number of questions about the seven year-long partnership with Wega and the benefits it brought to the club, but City chose not to answer our questions.  

Wega lists its address in Switzerland, but provides an inactive Manchester phone number for contacts. Its address for UK correspondence is a mail box centre in Paddington, London, where you can register up to two companies for £30 per month.

Wega is listed as a subsidiary of Truxtun Capital. Truxtun claimed in a 2019 press release that it is a “Global Partner of Manchester City”, although City make no reference to the parent company in its list of sponsors. Truxtun’s own website is down for maintenance.

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Truxtun press release about being a “Global Partner of Manchester City”

Manchester City were invited to respond to questions about its relationship with Truxtun Capital but chose not to do so.

Employee problems

Searches of Wega personnel yield no results via LinkedIn or any other website. Patrick Moynier, listed as Wega’s president on the City website, refers to himself as the Administrator of Truxtun Capital on LinkedIn. 

There are four other associated Truxtun employees on LinkedIn, several of whom appear to have several simultaneous jobs. None of these five Truxtun employees mention Wega on their resumes – although Moynier has posted a link to the website on his profile. 

Moynier is understood to have left his position and did not respond to our requests for comment.

Manchester City were invited to respond to questions on Wega’s workforce, but chose not to do so.

A residential address near Watford 

According to the Wega website, the UK Wega Representative is Gleevest Capital Limited, which is registered at a residential address near Watford. In its last accounts the company returned a turnover of £14,752 and possessed assets of £1229. 

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Google Maps | Gleevest Capital Limited registered at a residential address near Watford

A UAE resident Pierre-Yves Jean Marcel Montavon  is listed as a person of significant control. Montavon is a 63 year old lawyer and specialist in tax and commercial law. Moynier was a director of Gleevest for three months in 2015. 

Manchester City were invited to respond to questions on Gleevest’s assets and business set up, but chose not to do so.

“Qatar eSports World Cup”

The City partnership is not the only Gulf football deal Truxtun has concluded. In February 2020 it announced a “long-term partnership” with the Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF) in Qatar to develop a multi-game eSports World Cup in Doha – the first such tournament ever. These rounds would culminate, it was claimed at the time, “in 2022 in parallel with the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar.”

Wega was reported at the time to be “looking into the possibility of expanding its operations in the Middle East, potentially with a permanent office in the Aspire Sports Business District.” 

“This competition is considered as one of the most important in the world,” said Aspire Zones's executive marketing director Mohammed Mubarak Al Kuwari in February 2020

“Aspire are the main organisers of the event but not the owners of the intellectual rights, that is something that lies with TRUXTUN with whom we sealed a deal last March.”

Al Kuwari described Wega as “the leading international company for online payment services” and said that their “investment is one of the largest that Aspire have been involved with in recent times.” 

Truxtun LLC was registered in Qatar on 5 December 2019, with a correspondence address of Aspire – which is at the heart of Qatari sporting activity – and an authorised share capital of $100. The company was authorised to provide event management services, marketing and brand management and project management. 

A website promoting the ‘Qatar Esports Wega Global Games Doha 2020’ and promising a $15,000,000 cash prize was published soon after.  A link to Wega posted on the site takes you to a page promoting the Manchester City credit card.

However there have been no published developments in the eSports World Cup in the past 23 months and Truxtun’s license to operate in Qatar was withdrawn on 27 October 2021.

An executive who works on the 2022 World Cup denied any knowledge of the eSports World Cup.

Question marks

The apparently modest business that Wega is running is interesting in the light of the impressive financial results that Manchester City revealed earlier this month.

City’s financial results revealed it had surpassed Manchester United to become the highest earning club in English football. 

City earned £271 million from commercial revenues for the 2020/21 season, an increase of £25 million. 

However, the club’s off the pitch earnings have long been a source of contention, with particular scrutiny being placed on those linked to Abu Dhabi. The Abu Dhabi United Group for Development and Investment (ADUG) has a 78 per cent holding in Manchester City’s parent company, City Football Club.

UEFA have, over the course of several sanctions, fined the club tens of millions of euros for failing to cooperate with its financial control body’s investigations into whether these deals represent “fair value”, most recently in 2020. 

City are also embroiled in three-year long secret legal dispute with the Premier League. In 2019 the EPL confirmed that it was looking into City’s finances after an investigation by the German news magazine Der Spiegel, citing internal documents, alleged the club had disguised direct investment by its owner, Sheikh Mansour, as sponsorship income.

Earlier this month City ended its partnership with its  “official regional partner in decentralised finance trading analysis”, cryptocurrency start-up company, 3Key, after journalists revealed it to have no digital footprint and that its purported officers may not even exist.

Commenting on the 3Keys deal, Shaf Sohail, associate director at Forensic Risks Alliance, declared himself “surprised” that City were so badly caught out by the 3Key deal as they are known to be a very well run club. 

“It kind of begs the question that if Man City weren't sophisticated enough to properly vet who they were signing up with in, then who would be really?” he asked.