By Andrew Warshaw
May 16 – Still basking in the glory of becoming the first side in a decade to win back-to-back Premier League titles, Manchester City cannot escape global financial scrutiny off the field.
The Abu Dhabi-owned club have been referred by UEFA to an independent judicial chamber following an investigation into alleged breaches of Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.
UEFA opened an investigation into City over potential breaches of its break-even rule in March after reports that the club’s owners had inflated the value of sponsorship agreements to comply with FFP requirements.
A statement said the investigation, led by former Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme, had decided “to refer Manchester City FC to the CFCB (Club Financial Control Body) adjudicatory chamber following the conclusion of his investigation.”
Earlier this week, a New York Times report, widely picked up by other media organisations, said UEFA investigators want City thrown out for at least one season if they are found guilty of by misleading the authorities.
If true, it would represent a major blow to the cash-rich club who crave the Champions League trophy more than any other, just like Paris St Germain who are also funded by Middle East owners but are yet to land UEFA’s showpiece prize and who have also been subjected to FFP scrutiny.
City released their own statement soon after UEFA’s saying the club was “disappointed, but regrettably not surprised, by the sudden announcement of the referral.”
“The leaks to media over the last week are indicative of the process that has been overseen by Mr Leterme,” read a City statement.
“Manchester City is entirely confident of a positive outcome when the matter is considered by an independent judicial body.”
“The accusation of financial irregularities remains entirely false and the CFCB IC referral ignores a comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence provided by Manchester City to the Chamber.
“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 as part of what the club has found to be a wholly unsatisfactory, curtailed, and hostile process.”
In 2014, City were handed a £49 million fine for circumventing FFP regulations but were given back £33.4 million of that three years later after meeting the requirements of the sanctions initially imposed on them.
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