The European Football governing body will be meeting on Thursday in the investigatory chamber to decide on the fate of Manchester City and their ability to compete in the Champions League.
On Monday, it was reported by the New York Times that Manchester City, winners of this year’s English Premier League, may face being banned from participating in the tournament over financial practices deemed unfair.
Petros Mavroidis, one of the members from the UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body Investigatory Chamber, during an interview with CNN, claimed to be surprised by information within the report as a final decision had yet to be made.
The New York Times report claimed that UEFA Club Financial Control Body investigators would be recommending a ban for next season. If such a ban is put in place, Manchester City will be able to exercise their right to appeal the ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.
In its report, CNN attempted to get confirmation from another member, but they declined to comment stating to the news broadcaster that ongoing investigations relating to financial fair play issues are not commented on.
Manchester City, for its part, is adamant that it has not done any wrongdoing financially and has stated it welcomed the investigation by the UEFA and in doing so, released a statement that 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. 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.”
The club celebrated in Sunday, even while facing accusations, the winning of the English Premier League after it defeated Liverpool by a single point. The lucrative Champions League, which is estimated to earn the winning club $90 million and as Man City goes forward, it hopes to win the FA Cup on Saturday against Watford.
Man City has been consistent that the accusations against it are false. The investigation was launched as a result of leaked files to the German news magazine, Der Spiegel. The news magazine quoted documents that were part of an independent investigation carried out by the Football Leaks investigative project, which Der Spiegel believes indicates Man City inflated its sponsor fees after it spent more than was expected.
Those types of deals were what was allegedly used to get around the financial rules in place to ensure a level playing field. Manchester City is currently owned by Abu Dhabi United Group, an investment company owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan.
One of its main sponsors, Etihad Airways, is its shirt sponsor and as such has the rights for naming its stadium. However, Der Spiegel, in referencing club documents, alleges that Etihad only financed a portion of that deal, with the rest being covered by the Abu Dhabi United Group.
It is also alleged that Man City hid a player investment fund, through the use of a Cayman Island company, that is used to gain equity in players deemed promising. This was a common practise previously but one banned by both the Premier League and UEFA.
While the accusations may be damning in the eyes of some, Manchester City sees the investigation as an opportunity to end speculation of wrong doing that resulted in illegal hacking and publication of Man City emails that have been taken out of context. It maintains the allegations are false.