Manchester City’s Etihad stadium during Premier League title celebrations this week. Photograph: Carl Recine/Action Images via Reuters
Manchester City say they have provided “comprehensive proof” of their innocence to the Uefa body investigating allegations of financial fair play irregularities, and the club is expected to contest a referral to Uefa’s disciplinary process.
A strong view that City should be referred for a full hearing of the issues, with a possible Champions League ban if the allegations are proven, is thought to have been expressed by members of Uefa’s Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) “investigatory chamber (IC).” The chairman and chief investigatory, Yves Leterme, the former prime minister of Belgium, is currently considering whether he agrees with that view, that City do have a case to answer.
If he does, it is understood that Leterme will refer City to Uefa’s “adjudicatory chamber” for a full consideration of the facts and a potentially strong sanction, because the investigatory chambers disciplinary powers are limited to a warning, reprimand or fine up to a maximum €100,000.
City are principally facing the allegation based on emails published by the German magazine Spiegel that the club falsely overstated the amounts coming to the club from sponsors based in Abu Dhabi, when in fact the money was coming from the owner Sheikh Mansour, of the emirate’s ruling family. In a strongly worded statement, the club denounced alleged leaks of the process to the New York Times, and said:
“Manchester City FC is fully cooperating in good faith with the CFCB IC’s ongoing investigation. In doing so the club is reliant on both the CFCB IC’s independence and commitment to due process; and on Uefa’s commitment of the 7th of March that it … will make no further comment on the matter while the investigation is ongoing.
“The New York Times report citing ‘people familiar with the case’ is therefore extremely concerning. The implications are that either Manchester City’s good faith in the CFCB IC is misplaced or the CFCB IC process is being misrepresented by individuals intent on damaging the Club’s reputation and its commercial interests. Or both.
“Manchester City’s published accounts are full and complete and a matter of legal and regulatory record. The accusation of financial irregularities are entirely false, and comprehensive proof of this fact has been provided to the CFCB IC.”
A statement from Uefa said: “We do not comment on ongoing investigations regarding financial fair play matters.”