Moving past the concerning lack of a genuine social presence, the company’s dubious origins – it appears that social accounts are currently run from the United Arab Emirates – would certainly suggest, at the very least, that something’s a little off about the Sky Blues’ latest partnership. “Manchester City’s website claims that 8XBet was founded in 2018 by one ‘Ryan Li’,” Jack Kerr, Philippe Auclair, Andy Brown and Steve Menary wrote for Josimar. “Yet the 8xbet.com domain was for sale as of November last year, as the Wayback Machine shows. “The .com domain for 978bet, the bookmaker’s previous name, was for sale in 2019 and blank in November 2020. “There are a number of mirror sites associated with each of these brands: but the ones that we checked were either registered in 2020 (for 978Bet) or around Christmas last year (for 8XBet). “This means that, if it was operating in 2018 as claimed, it may well have been doing so illegally: the bookmaker is licensed in Curacao through a company called 978 Tech NV, and Open Corporates shows that this was only registered in March 2021. “As for its founder, when we searched for “Ryan Li” “978Bet” on Google, the solitary result was Josimar’s previous article on the bookmaker. “A search for “Ryan Li” “8XBet” returns no results prior to March 2022, when he began to be named in promotional-style news articles announcing a partnership between 8XBet and Teddy Sheringham. “At least two journalists who quoted ‘Ryan Li’ did not speak to him but received quotes via email from a British public relations company they were not at liberty to name.” The murky nature of rules around time-barred offences means Pep Guardiola’s men have largely gotten away with their allegedly dodgy dealings off the pitch. That being said, should such investigations gather traction as far as any official bodies are concerned, one would have to think the incumbent champions would be under threat of serious sanctions.