MANCHESTER CITY’S flawless start to the new season is in danger of being soured after their chief executive, Garry Cook, found himself at the centre of a row over an email mocking a cancer-stricken woman.
Dr Anthonia Onuoha, the mother and agent of City defender Nedum Onuoha, alleges she received an offensive message poking fun at her illness from an email account that appeared to belong to Cook.
Former Nike executive Cook (right), no stranger to controversy in his three years at City, has denied sending the email, saying his account had been hacked and that the club were investigating. Dr Onuoha has asked the Football Association and Premier League to probe the message, which followed an exchange between her and City football administrator Brian Marwood.
She wrote to Marwood in October 2010, copying in Cook, regarding a dispute over her son’s contract, saying: “My body might be ravaged by cancer and ongoing chemotherapy but, thankfully, my intellectual and mental capacities remain fully functional.”
Two weeks later she received a reply from Cook’s account addressed to Marwood, which said: “Brian, Ravaged with it!!... I don’t know how you sleep at night. You used to be such a nice man when I worked with you at Nike. G”.
Dr Onuoha says that when she replied to Cook he denied knowledge of the offending email, saying his account had been infiltrated by hackers while he was on holiday, and apologised profusely. She says Cook also told her a City was employee was being disciplined over the incident, but now wants the game’s governing bodies to look into the matter.
Cook has come under fire for controversial remarks several times since he was hired by former City owner and ex-Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2008.
He famously promised City would beat neighbours and rivals Manchester United in the 2010 Carling Cup semi-final during a talk with fans in New York.
City lost the second leg 3-1 and the tie 4-3, and United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is said to have used Cook’s comments as motivation in his pre-match team-talk.
City, who are to investigate the claims, have won all three of their Premier League matches this season, scoring 12 goals in the process. Onuoha, 24, came through the youth ranks at the club and spent last season on loan at Sunderland.
COOK CONTROVERSIES | TIMELINE
May 08: Cook is hired by City owner Thaksin Shinawatra as chief executive
Aug 08: Defends Thaksin, accused of corruption in his native Thailand: “Is he a nice guy? Yes. Is he a great guy to play golf with? Yes.”
Jan 09: Accuses AC Milan of “bottling it” after bid for Kaka runs aground
Sep 09: Says he “deeply regrets” his “failure to do proper research on Thaksin”, following Shinawatra’s sale to Sheik Mansour.
Nov 09: Booed by City fans for inducting Uwe Rosler into the “Manchester United Hall of Fame [sic]”
Dec 09: Forced to defend treatment of Mark Hughes in press conference to introduce his successor Roberto Mancini.
Jan 10: Tells fans City’s impending win over United in Carling Cup semi-final was “not if but when”. They lost