European football’s governing body Uefa will reportedly hit Manchester City with a ban from the Champions League after concluding an investigation into allegations that the English Premier League champion misled regulators over its financial affairs.
US newspaper the New York Times said members of the Uefa Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) Investigatory Chamber met a fortnight ago in Nyon, Switzerland to finalise their conclusions in the City case.
The Times added that the CFCB’s submission to the adjudicatory chamber could be filed as soon as this week, adding that at least a one-season ban from European competition is expected to be recommended.
In March, Uefa announced that it had opened a formal investigation into City, following allegations that the club had serially breached financial fair play (FFP) rules. The accusations emerged late last year when a report in German magazine Der Spiegel, based on documents obtained by the Football Leaks website, claimed that City had been disguising huge investment from its owner, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, as sponsorship deals through various UAE-based companies.
One email exchange seen by Der Spiegel appeared to imply that while the total value of the Etihad airline’s sponsorship of City had reached £67.5m (€77.8m/$87.4m), only £8m of this had actually been contributed by the airline, with Abu Dhabi United Group – Sheikh Mansour’s holding company – topping the sponsorship up by almost £60m over the course of six years.
The Times, citing people with knowledge of the probe, reported that City’s punishment is likely to be tied to an accusation that it provided misleading statements in resolving an earlier case, as well as false statements to licensing authorities in England. It will reportedly not concern the true value of the sponsorship agreements.
City has a long history with Uefa when it comes to FFP. In April 2017, Uefa cleared City and French Ligue 1 champion Paris Saint-Germain of further punishment over the breach of FFP regulations in 2014.
Uefa said both City and PSG had complied with sanctions placed upon them and were able to operate under standard regulations. City and PSG were amongst the first teams to be sanctioned under FFP, which was introduced by Uefa in an effort to stop teams from overspending.