The Premier League on Monday accused Manchester City of breaching its financial regulations for more than a decade, setting the stage for an expensive and high-stakes fight that could see City, one of the most dominant soccer teams in Europe over the past decade, ejected from England’s top league.
The charges, outlined in a statement released by the Premier League on Monday morning and unprecedented in their scale, accuse City of repeatedly failing to provide accurate financial information “that gives a true and fair view of the club’s financial position, in particular with respect to its revenue (including sponsorship revenue), its related parties and its operating costs.”
City, which has won six Premier League championships since 2011, was also accused not disclosing contractual payments and failing, as required, to cooperate with Premier League investigators.
Manchester City made no immediate comment on the charges.
The accusations date back as far as 2009 — a year after Manchester City was purchased by the brother of the ruler of Abu Dhabi and began a turbocharged era of both spending and success.
Under the stewardship of its Gulf owner, Manchester City has been transformed into one of the most successful and free-spending teams in world soccer, a serial English champion and a regular contender for the world’s best players and Europe’s biggest trophies.
Throughout that period, there has been suspicion about Manchester City’s financial dealings, and its willingness to abide by the cost-control and financial regulations of not only the Premier League but also European soccer’s governing body, UEFA. In 2020, UEFA banned Manchester City from its top competition, the Champions League, for two years for financial rules violations, though the club appealed the decision and had the ban overturned.
In challenging that ban, City focused on a few words in UEFA’s rules, which set a five-year time limit on the infractions eligible for punishment. In effect, UEFA’s investigation had taken too long to consider the most serious offenses, and so the club escaped the harshest punishments levied against it.
The scale of wrongdoing implied by the Premier League is remarkable in its scale. No previous investigation has lasted as long as the current case against Manchester City, nor has one produced allegations of wrongdoing spread over so many seasons.
Several of the charges date back as far as the 2009-10 season, and at least one makes reference to the current campaign. Manchester City is currently second in the Premier League, and chasing its fifth title in six years.
It is unclear what penalties Manchester City could face if the league’s accusations are upheld. According to Premier Leagues rules, teams which are found to have been in breach of its rules face sanctions that could include expulsion from the top division. And unlike UEFA, the Premier League does not have a statute of limitations in its regulations.
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