Manchester City have been referred to Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) adjudicatory chamber by UEFA over a potential breach of financial fair play (FFP) rules.
The investigatory chamber of UEFA's financial control board opened an investigation in March into allegations made in German publication Der Spiegel, purportedly obtained by whistleblowers Football Leaks, that City circumvented rules by inflating sponsorship deals.
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UEFA's investigatory panel leader, the former Belgium prime minister Yves Leterme has now given the go-ahead for the matter to be passed onto to the adjudicatory chamber, UEFA confirmed on Thursday.
According to a report in the New York Times, citing "people familiar with the case" UEFA will push for the club to be given at least a one-season ban from the competition, after a meeting at its Swiss headquarters two weeks ago.
The Premier League champions responded to UEFA's statement, and said they are "disappointed but regrettably not surprised" by the announcement.
"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," UEFA's statement read.
"The CFCB investigatory chamber had opened an investigation into Manchester City FC on 7 March 2019 for potential breaches of Financial Fair Play regulations that were made public in various media outlets. UEFA will not be making any further comment on the matter until a decision is announced by the CFCB adjudicatory chamber."
City issued their own statement describing the investigation as "wholly unsatisfactory, curtailed, and hostile process."
"Manchester City Football Club is disappointed, but regrettably not surprised, by the sudden announcement of the referral to be made by the CFCB IC Chief Investigator Yves Leterme," a club statement said. "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 club have already been punished for violating FFP, striking an agreement in 2014 that saw them fined rather than banned from the Champions League for inflated sponsorship deals with companies linked to the club or their ownership.
A final conclusion over the current investigations is not likely to be reached before the start of next season's Champions League. City could also appeal any decision, via the Court of Arbitration for Sport.