Manchester City could face a Champions League ban should allegations of financial manipulation be proved.
Both Uefa and the Premier League are investigating after emails leaked by German publication Der Spiegel appeared to show £59.5million, reported as coming from sponsors Etihad airline was actually from owners Abu Dhabi United Group.
If proved the allegations would amount to a breach of Uefa’s financial fair play rules and, according to the European governing body’s head of independent Club Financial Control Body, Yves Leterme, could lead to the ‘heaviest punishment’ for the Premier League champions.
Speaking to Belgian outlet Sport and Strategy, Leterme said: “If it is true what has been written, there might be a serious problem. This can lead to the heaviest punishment: exclusion from the Uefa competitions.
“If the information is correct, this possibly goes against truthful reporting. The financial fair play rules are based on a system of declaration, three months after the clubs have closed their accounts, they have to deposit their figures.
“Then we do random checks on the truthfulness of those figures. The accounts are examined and approved internally and externally.”
Speaking in December, Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin claimed there was a ‘concrete case’ against Manchester City.
“We are assessing the situation. We have an independent body working on it. Very soon we will have the answers on what will happen in this concrete case,” he said.
City have been sanctioned over financial fair play before, fined £49million in 2014 as well as having their Champions League squad capped.