LONDON • Manchester City are at risk of a possible Champions League ban after an investigation into alleged manipulation of their sponsorship income.
Uefa commissioned an independent probe last month in response to leaked e-mails that were published. The inquiry is due to conclude "very soon" and is expected to recommend charges against the Premier League champions.
German magazine Der Spiegel published documents from whistle-blowing website Football Leaks, including e-mails from City executives apparently revealing that nearly £60 million (S$104.3 million) - which was supposed to have been paid by airline sponsor Etihad in 2015 - had been paid directly by the Abu Dhabi United Group, the club's owner.
According to Der Spiegel, City also manipulated their sponsorship deals with Etihad and its other partners - Aabar and the city's tourism authority - by backdating them.
That could contravene Uefa's Financial Fair Play rules regarding investment from owners and given that City have previously been fined £16.3 million for FFP breaches in 2014, another violation might lead to sporting sanctions, like a ban from European football's elite club competition next term.
But there was good news for them yesterday, when they were revealed to be the biggest beneficiaries from the US$209 million (S$285 million) handed out by Fifa to clubs who released players for this year's World Cup.
They will receive US$5 million, ahead of Real Madrid (US$4.81 million), Tottenham (US$4.38 million), Barcelona (US$4.14 million) and Paris St-Germain (US$3.89 million).
THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS