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Man City at risk of Champions League ban with Uefa financial investigation verdict due

Uefa financial investigators are reportedly expected to press ahead with recommendations for a Champions League ban against Manchester City within the next week.

Yves Leterme, the chairman and chief investigator of Uefa’s club financial control body, has been leading the review into evidence surrounding an alleged £60million payments deception detailed during the Football Leaks scandal last autumn.

Telegraph Sport disclosed in January how European football’s governing body was considering a suspension against the Premier League champions over potential breaches in Financial Fair Play rules. City deny any wrongdoing.

The New York Times now reports that investigation will conclude this week or next week, and is set to recommend a ban from the Champions League of at least one season. 

The investigatory chamber is said to have finalised its conclusions two weeks ago in Nyon, Switzerland. A Uefa spokesman said it was unable to comment on a live investigation. 

Leterme said in February that the club faced “the heaviest punishment” if the allegations were proven. Senior Uefa officials – who previously launched sanctions against City in 2014 – are particularly enraged by leaked files from 2015, which claim almost £60million was paid directly into the club by their billionaire Arab owners but declared as sponsorship.

“If it is true what has been written, there might be a serious problem,” Leterme said in an interview translated by German magazine Der Spiegel, which initially broke the Football Leaks scandal. “This can lead to the heaviest punishment: exclusion from the Uefa competitions.”

The documents, allegedly obtained by illegal email hacks, were previously said to show £59.5 million that was supposed to have come from City’s principal sponsor, Etihad Airways, was paid directly to the club by the Abu Dhabi United Group. To put that into context, City’s record signing is Riyad Mahrez, who cost £60 million from Leicester City last season.

According to Der Spiegel in November, City breached FFP rules by €188 million (£167 million) in 2014. City owner Sheikh Mansour was accused of funding significant parts of so-called deals with club sponsors in an attempt to escape Uefa sanctions. Der Spiegel also alleged that City set up a secret scheme called “Project Longbow”, which effectively hid about £40 million in payments to players, after the club had agreed a €20 million fine as a settlement for FFP breaches.

However, City have claimed “the attempt to damage the club’s reputation is organised and clear” and said they “will not be providing any comment on out-of-context materials purportedly hacked or stolen from City Football Group and Man City personnel and associated people”. 

A spokeswoman for City told the Telegraph that the club stood by its previous “strenuous denial of any financial wrongdoing”

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