Manchester City referred to UEFA body after financial fair play investigation

Manchester City said it was “disappointed” but “not surprised” after it was referred to UEFA’s club financial control body adjudicatory chamber following an investigation into allegations of unfair financial practices.

Investigators from European football’s governing body met Thursday and UEFA confirmed Chief Investigator Yves Leterme had submitted his recommendation.

The New York Times reported Monday that investigators would recommend a season-long ban from the Champions League but Leterme’s recommendation has not been made public.

City, who has strenuously denied any financial wrongdoing, has criticized the investigatory process saying it is: “disappointed, but regrettably not surprised, by the sudden announcement of the referral to be made by the CFCB IC Chief Investigator Yves Leterme.”

“The leaks to media over the last week are indicative of the process that has been overseen by Mr. Leterme,” added the statement.

“Manchester City is entirely confident of a positive outcome when the matter is considered by an independent judicial body.

“The decision contains mistakes, misinterpretations and confusions fundamentally borne out of a basic lack of due process and there remain significant unresolved matters raised by Manchester City FC as part of what the Club has found to be a wholly unsatisfactory, curtailed, and hostile process.”

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UEFA has been investigating the club for possible breaches of its Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations since leaked files were reported by Der Spiegel.

FFP rules are supposed to stop clubs from getting into unmanageable debt or allowing wealthy benefactors to give top teams an unfair advantage.

Der Spiegel cited club documents gathered by the independent Football Leaks investigative project, which the German publication says show the club inflated sponsor fees when the club spent more than expected.

These types of sponsorship deals allowed the club to circumvent UEFA’s financial rules designed to create a more level playing field, according to Der Spiegel.

CNN has not seen the documents referred to in reports from Der Siegel, which was first to report the accusations of financial improprieties.

READ: Man City braced for possible ban from Champions League

Allegations

The Emirati royal Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan’s investment company Abu Dhabi United Group owns Manchester City.

Etihad Airways, the flag carrier of the Emirates, is the club’s shirt sponsor and has naming rights for its stadium.

But Der Spiegel, citing club documents, alleged the airline financed only part of the sponsorship deal, with ADUG coming up with the rest.

The club also allegedly concealed a player investment fund, which would allow the club to hold equity in promising players — so-called “third-party ownership (TPO) — by using a company in the Cayman Islands, the newspaper reported.

This is a practice banned by UEFA and the Premier League.

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Champions League dream

The Champions League, Europe’s flagship competition, is hugely prestigious — and lucrative. Lifting the trophy — something that has eluded City thus far — is estimated to earn the winning club over $90 million.

City won a consecutive English Premier League title on Sunday, beating Liverpool to the top spot by just one point. It is now looking to complete a domestic treble at the FA Cup final against Watford on Saturday.

However, Pep Guardiola’s side could only reach the quarterfinal stage of the Champions League this year before being knocked out by Tottenham Hotspur.

The top four teams from the EPL qualify for the following season’s Champions League; a competition City has been in every year since the 2010/11 season.

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