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English soccer team Manchester City maintains innocence at 'entirely false' financial irregularities

Key Points
  • Manchester City referred to European soccer governing body UEFA’s financial control body for potential Financial Fair Play (FFP) breaches
  • Reports suggest the English Premier League champion could face a ban from European club competition
  • The club’s Abu Dhabi owners are accused of inflating sponsorship agreements

Premier League title-winning Manchester City said Thursday it's "disappointed, but regrettably not surprised," after being referred to European soccer governing body UEFA's financial control body.

UEFA had announced the case against Manchester City had been escalated to an independent judicial chamber following an investigation into alleged breaches of Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.

In March this year, UEFA opened an investigation into the club over potential breaches of its break-even rule, after German publication Der Spiegel reported the club's Abu Dhabi owners inflated sponsorship agreements to comply with FFP requirements. City were fined £49 million ($62.9 million) in 2014 for a previous breach of regulations.

"The Club Financial Control Body chief investigator (Yves Leterme) ... has decided to refer Manchester City FC to the CFCB adjudicatory chamber following the conclusion of his investigation," UEFA said in a statement on its website.

The news comes just days after the club retained the Premier League title for the first time in its history and went on record to say it was confident the accusation of financial irregularities "remains entirely false."

Current Manager Pep Guardiola was lured to Manchester City in 2016, after the club's Abu Dhabi owners believed the former Barcelona head coach was the man to lead them to glory in the Champions League, which is known as European soccer's premier cup competition.

Three seasons in and they are still waiting to conquer Europe, with its most recent failure coming via an agonizing Champions League quarter-final defeat by Tottenham Hotspur. As a result, it also stopped City's pursuit of an unprecedented trophy quadruple in its tracks.

A season-long ban from the Champions League could be recommended for Manchester City, according to a BBC report this week, if it was found to be in serious breach of the rules. However, there are suggestions that such a ban would not be implemented in time for next season, which would begin in August.