Manchester City may be charged with breaking Uefa’s financial fair play rules on Thursday and face a ban from the Champions League if found guilty by European football’s governing body.
Uefa’s investigatory chamber, the committee that look into financial transgressions, will meet on Thursday in Nyon and their chairman, Yves Leterme, is expected to make the decision to refer City to the adjudicatory chamber, who can hand down severe sanctions.
Concise News reported that City strongly deny wrongdoing and will appeal against any punishment. They are expected to take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. They could also challenge any negative verdict in the Swiss courts.
The club face allegations they made false declarations of sponsorship income to Uefa after 2012.
A Portuguese hacker released internal City emails to Der Spiegel, the German magazine, that purported to show that Etihad, the club’s main sponsor, provided only a small proportion of its declared payment. Leaked documents suggest the airline paid £8million of its own cash. The rest of the £65m fee, it is alleged, was funnelled through Etihad from a holding company connected to Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the club’s owner.
Mansour, a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family, bought City in 2008 and has turned them into one of Europe’s biggest clubs.
A decision to charge City would throw the Champions League into turmoil and potentially have a knock-on effect on Arsenal. If the London club fail to win the Europa League Final against Chelsea, they will miss out on qualification. They would be in line to replace City if a ban was handed down.
Uefa are likely to be reluctant to bar City from the tournament until the legal process ends but that could undermine the integrity of the competition.
If Uefa charge City, who Pep Guardiola guided to a second successive League title, the pressure will be on the Premier League to follow suit. The domestic ruling body have their own financial fair play rules and are investigating City.