Manchester city are facing a three-pronged investigation by the Premier League which could lead to further sanctions on top of the two-year Champions League ban imposed by UEFA.
The League began looking into City's accounting and recruitment practices almost a year ago in the wake of UEFA's Financial Fair Play probe, which resulted in City being given a two-year ban and a £24.9million fine. Sportsmail can now reveal details of the domestic investigation for the first time.
The Premier League have been working with law firm Bird & Bird to gather evidence of City's accounting in an investigation which is being run independently of the other clubs, who will have no influence over whether they will face charges.
Potential sanctions would include a fine, a transfer embargo or a points deduction. Stripping the club of previous titles is extremely unlikely.
The first element of the investigation is understood to focus on whether City breached the Premier League's Short Term Cost Control measures between 2013 and 2016, a regulation that has since been abolished. It prohibited clubs from increasing their wage bill by more than seven per cent per season unless they could demonstrate that the salary increases came from higher commercial revenue.
If Premier League investigators find evidence to support UEFA's conclusion that City overstated their sponsorship income during this period, that is likely to be considered a breach and would lead to disciplinary charges.
The Premier League are also responsible for operating UEFA's licencing process, which was introduced in 2004 for clubs who compete in European competitions, and if City are found to have submitted false information in their accounts that could constitute a breach of their licence.
The final element of the investigation is understood to concern City's recruitment of youth players, in particular their relationship with Danish club FC Nordsjaelland. It has been claimed City had an agreement with Nordsjaelland between 2016 and 2020 which enabled them to sign players from the club's Right to Dream Academy in Ghana for free, which could constitute a breach of third-party ownership rules. Third-party ownership
was banned by FIFA in 2015.
The Premier League have not commented on their investigation into City since a statement issued in March 2019, though new chief executive Richard Masters did confirm this month that it remained ongoing.
'The Premier League has previously contacted Manchester City to request information regarding recent allegations and is in ongoing dialogue with the club,' read their statement. 'The league has detailed financial regulations and strong rules in the areas of academy player recruitment and third-party ownership. We are investigating and will allow Manchester City every opportunity to explain the context and detail surrounding them.'
City appealed UEFA's two-year ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport earlier this week and the Premier League are not likely to report until that case is concluded, which is not expected to be until this summer at the earliest. The club deny any wrongdoing.
If the Premier League's investigators conclude that City have a case to answer they will either seek to come to a financial settlement with the club or set up an independent disciplinary commission.
Such tribunals are extremely rare in the Premier League as most disputes and alleged rule breaches are settled privately, as occurred last year when Everton agreed to pay Watford £4m in compensation for the manner in which they recruited Marco Silva.
The most recent case of the Premier League prosecuting one of their own clubs was in 2007 when West Ham were fined £30m for breaching third-party ownership rules concerning Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano.