Yves Leterme, the head of UEFA’s independent Club Financial Control Body, has confirmed publicly that Manchester City is under investigation for misreporting income sources on its official documents submitted to the governing body and could be facing a ban from European competitions.
Leterme told reporters that Manchester City was potentially facing “the heaviest punishment” for its alleged rule-breaking. UEFA regulations state that ownership groups can only inject a certain amount of money every year, hoping to force clubs to remain financially stable and not rely on massive injections of cash from individual entities.
“If it is true what has been written, there might be a serious problem,” Leterme was quoted by Der Spiegel. “This can lead to the heaviest punishment: exclusion from the UEFA competitions.”
German publication Der Spiegel obtained leaked emails that seemed to show Manchester City circumvented UEFA rules by disguising ownership-contributed money as sponsorship dollars. In particular, the documents suggested that in 2015, nearly $75.5 million of ownership injection was disguised as sponsorship dollars from state sponsor Etihad Airways. That summer, Manchester City spent nearly $236 million on player acquisitions on the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, and Nicolas Otamendi.
The documents also alleged a codenamed “Project Longbow” that attempted to hide $50 million of player salary payments to keep in line with Financial Fair Play, coming after the club had already been handed a large fine by UEFA for breaching regulations in 2014.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said in early December that the allegations against Manchester City were serious, calling it a “concrete case” and claiming UEFA had an “independent body working on it.”