Manchester City has been referred to UEFA’s financial disciplinary committee over potential breaches of financial fair play (FFP) regulations, amid claims that the governing body could ban the Premier League club from the Champions League if found guilty.
The decision comes after European soccer’s governing body’s Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) chief investigator, former Belgium Prime Minister Yves Leterme, launched a probe into City’s finances in March, following allegations made last year by the German magazine Der Spiegel’s Football Leaks series that the English club had systematically broke FFP rules.
UEFA has now released a short statement on the investigation via its website.
It reads: ‘The Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) chief investigator, after having consulted with the other members of the independent investigatory chamber of the CFCB, has decided to refer Manchester City FC to the CFCB adjudicatory chamber following the conclusion of his investigation.
‘The CFCB investigatory chamber had opened an investigation into Manchester City FC on 7 March 2019 for potential breaches of Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations that were made public in various media outlets.’
City, who maintain that the allegations are ‘entirely false’, responded to UEFA’s update with their own statement, saying they are ‘disappointed, but regrettably not surprised’ by the governing body’s decision.
Adding: ‘The leaks to media over the last week are indicative of the process that has been overseen by Mr Leterme.
‘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 FC 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 FC as part of what the Club has found to be a wholly unsatisfactory, curtailed, and hostile process.’
The update from UEFA and response from City comes after a report by the New York Times newspaper on 14th May which claimed that the governing body would move to ban the club from the Champions League for a year if found guilty of FFP violations.
The Times report was also met with a firmly worded statement from City, which said: ‘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 accusations of financial irregularities are entirely false, and comprehensive proof of this fact has been provided to the CFCB IC.’
According to the New York Times report, any punishment that UEFA would impose on City in the event that the club is found guilty of breaking FFP regulations would be linked to an accusation that it provided ‘misleading statements in resolving an earlier case’, as well as ‘false statements to licensing authorities in England, and not over the true value of the sponsorship agreements’.
City accepted a UK£49 million (US$62.8 million) fine and a transfer cap passed down by UEFA in May 2014 under the body’s newly-instated FFP regime.
Rui Pinto, a Portuguese man who was arrested last November in Hungary on suspicion of extortion and secrecy violations linked to the publication of internal documents in the Football Leaks, is awaiting trial following his extradition to Portugal earlier this year.
Since his arrest, Mr Pinto has received support from Portuguese MEP Ana Gomes, who said that Portuguese authorities have a duty to protect ‘whistleblowers’ and criticised an apparent lack of interest in the information Mr Pinto allegedly helped Football Leaks expose.
Source European Media / UEFA / Manchester City