Newly crowned Premier League champions Manchester City could be banned from Europe’s elite club competition next season.
UEFA financial investigators will press ahead this week with a recommendation that City be banned from the Champions League for a minimum of one season.
City had been under investigation into evidence surrounding alleged £59.5m payments deception detailed during the Football Leaks scandal at the end of last season.
City are accused of having £59.5m paid directly into the club by their billionaire Arab owners but declared as ‘sponsorship’, from files obtained via illegal email hacks in 2015.
The documents revealed the money was supposed to have come from City’s main sponsor, Etihad Airways, but instead came from the Abu Dhabi United Group, owned by Sheikh Mansour, who also owns City.
German newspaper Der Spiegel, initially broke the ‘Football Leaks’ scandal not long after then long-time president Sepp Blatter resigned along with other top ranking FIFA and UEFA officials over alleged corruption.
They alleged that City set up a secret scheme, which effectively hid £34.7m in payments to players, after the club had agreed a £17.3m fine as a settlement for breaching Financial Fiar Play rules.
City breached Financial Fair Play rules by £167m in 2014. Club owner Sheikh Mansour was accused of funding significant parts of ‘deals’ with club sponsors in an attempt to avoid UEFA sanctions.
UEFA is said to have already ‘finalised its conclusions’ two weeks ago at its Headquarters in Switzerland, but a spokesperson for the governing body of European football was ‘unable to comment on a live investigation’.
“The attempt to damage the club’s reputation is organised and clear. We will not be providing any comment on out-of-context materials purportedly hacked or stolen from City Football Group and Man City personnel.Manchester City Football Club
The person leading the review is Yves Leterme, the chairman and chief investigator of UEFA’s club financial control body. He is looking into whether they broke Financial Fair Play rules.
In an interview with Der Spiegel, Leterme said ‘If it is true what has been written, there might be a serious problem. This can lead to the heaviest punishment: exclusion from the UEFA competitions.”
Manchester City deny all financial wrongdoing.