Leicester investigated over King Power sponsorship
Claims of 'financial doping' in the season they won promotion could tarnish Premier League achievement
Could a backlash against Leicester City be brewing as they close in on an extraordinary Premier League triumph?
There have been allegations of "financial doping" at the club, with The Guardian reporting claims that "the Football League is still investigating the club's 2013-14 promotion season amid strong concerns from other clubs they may have cheated financial fair play rules".
The allegations concern Leicester's sponsorship and commercial revenue, which leapt by £11m after Trestellar Ltd was hired to oversee marketing.
The £16m the firm raised helped the Foxes avoid any penalties over their finances, but has been described as an abnormally large sum for a Championship side.
"Leicester say Trestellar sold the club's main sponsorships... to King Power, the club's owners," reports David Conn in the Guardian. "The Thai owners were already sponsoring the shirt and stadium before the Trestellar deal; in 2012-13 Leicester's sponsorship and other commercial income was £5.2m. After the Trestellar deal, with King Power still holding the same main sponsorships, the income immediately jumped to £16m."
It is claimed the uptick in revenue allowed Leicester to avoid financial fair play penalties. "Some other clubs are furious, arguing they reduced spending on players to comply with the rules while Leicester overspent on players' wages, achieved promotion and have since resisted any sanctions."
Trestellar, which is based on a Sheffield trading estate, was set up by the son and daughter of Sir Dave Richards, a former Premier League chairman who had close links to Leicester's Thai owners, adds Conn.
However, the Foxes will "almost certainly" avoid being punished, says website SB Nation. The Football League investigation is ongoing, but the Premier League has very different rules so Leicester's finances since they got promotion are not a cause for concern.
And after qualifying for the Champions League, the club can bring in external sponsors.
"Now that they're the world's sporting darlings and headed to Champions League, they're going to get big sponsorship offers - bigger than King Power/Trestellar pays right now," says the website.