Man city to face UCL ban next season amid FPP rows

Manchester City could face a ban from next season’s Champions League over alleged deceptions of Uefa’s financial rules revealed in the Football Leaks scandal. European football’s governing body believes a potential transfer embargo is not a sufficient punishment for the Premier League champions if an independent inquiry into Financial Fair Play rules against the club in the coming days.
Senior Uefa officials – who previously launched sanctions against City in 2014 – are particularly enraged by leaked files from 2015, which claim almost £60 million was paid directly into the club by their billionaire Arab owners but declared as sponsorship.
Speaking here yesterday, Aleksander Ceferin, the Uefa president, appeared to indicate the allegations of FFP breaches were a “concrete case”. The documents, allegedly obtained by illegal email hacks, are said to show £59.5 million that was supposed to have come from City’s principal sponsor Etihad Airways – which sponsors the club’s stadium, shirts and training ground – was paid directly to the club by the Abu Dhabi United Group. To put that into context, City’s record signing is Riyad Mahrez, who cost £60 million from Leicester City last season.
Ceferin, speaking after a meeting of Uefa executives, said: “We are assessing the situation. We have an independent body working on it. Very soon we will have the answers on what will happen in this concrete case.”
According to a report in German magazine Der Spiegel last month, City breached FFP rules by €188 million (£167 million) in 2014.
City owner Sheikh Mansour was accused of funding significant parts of so-called deals with club sponsors in an attempt to escape Uefa sanctions. Der Spiegel also alleged that City set up a secret scheme called “Project Longbow”, which effectively hid about £40 million in payments to players, after the club had agreed a €20 million fine as a settlement for FFP breaches.
However, City have claimed “the attempt to damage the club’s reputation is organised and clear” and said they “will not be providing any comment on out-of-context materials purportedly hacked or stolen from City Football Group and Man City personnel and associated people”.
Uefa issued a statement last week confirming that previous cases could be reopened if new information came to light, and that previously undisclosed information could also be used. It said: “Uefa conducts an annual assessment of all clubs against the break-even requirements of FFP on a rolling three-year basis. If new information comes to light, that may be material to this assessment, Uefa will use that to challenge the figures.