UEFA investigators send Man City case to judges for verdict

(AP Photo/Jon Super)

GENEVA — UEFA club finance investigators have sent their Manchester City file to independent judges for a verdict which could be a one-year ban from the Champions League.

The English champion is suspected of breaking rules that monitor clubs’ commercial income and spending on player transfers and wages, and faces the most serious sanction which could apply next season.

UEFA confirmed the expected referral to its judging panel on Thursday, though did not publish the recommended punishment or a timetable for the verdict.

The chief investigator — Yves Leterme, a former prime minister of Belgium — is required by UEFA rules to propose “the final decision to be taken, including, where appropriate, any disciplinary measures.”

City hit back in a statement at what it called “a wholly unsatisfactory, curtailed, and hostile process” overseen by UEFA.

“The accusation of financial irregularities remains entirely false and the ... referral ignores a comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence provided by Manchester City,” the club said.

UEFA’s club finance panel opened its formal case against City in March “for potential breaches of financial fair play regulations that were made public in various media outlets.”

Internal documents about City’s business and emails between club executives have been published in the Football Leaks series led by German magazine Der Spiegel since last November.

The revelations suggested City officials deceived UEFA over several years, including by disguising that revenue from potentially overvalued commercial deals came from the club’s owners in Abu Dhabi.

The Football Leaks documents are suspected of being hacked or stolen, and a Portuguese man was extradited from Hungary to his home country in March to be questioned about alleged attempted extortion and illegal access to data.

City has not disputed that the published information is authentic, while also refusing to address the detail in public statements.

The Associated Press reported this week that club officials have not fully cooperated with UEFA’s investigators.

“Manchester City is entirely confident of a positive outcome when the matter is considered by an independent judicial body,” the club said on Thursday.

City can appeal against any punishment imposed by UEFA’s club finance panel at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.