Manchester City face a Champions League BAN for alleged Financial Fair Play breaches. Pep Guardiola’s Prem champs are accused of hiding millions in funding to get round tough Uefa transfer rules.
Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin revealed City would discover “very soon” what potential punishment awaits. And the ban would be imposed as soon as next season. Senior figures in Uefa believe “sporting sanctions” are the only suitable rap for what is seen as deliberate strategy of flouting the regulations.
The source said: “You can’t hit a club like City with a fine. It has to be something that hurts. “That means sporting sanctions. Manchester City were punished once before and that did not stop them. Now it has to be another step up.”
If City were banned, their Champions League spot would be handed to the fifth-placed side. Bans for FFP breaches have been imposed in the past, with Turkish giants Galatasaray being slapped with a one-year suspension in 2016.
Last month’s Football Leaks document revelations suggested City had hidden the true source of up to 80 per cent of annual “sponsorship” money from Gulf-based companies.
Cash from Etihad Airways and Abu Dhabi-based investment company Aabah were declared as worth £82m in 2015. The documents, though, suggest they were actually worth just £11m, with the shortfall made up by Abu Dhabi United Group run by Sheikh Mansour and the club’s owners.
City are also accused of setting up a shell company, also directly funded by Abu Dhabi United Group, to meet the image rights scheme for players wiping £40m off the wage bill and allowing them to meet FFP rules.
In 2014, City were initially fined £49m and ordered to operate with a 21-man Champions League squad as part of a “settlement” deal with Uefa. But Football Leaks also revealed this compromise was brokered by ex-Uefa general secretary now Fifa boss Gianni Infantino after City threatened a legal war.
Three weeks ago, Uefa announced it was prepared to re-open the cases against City, both relating to events before the 2014 deal and subsequently.