Manchester City were kicked out of the Champions League for the next two seasons and hit with a â¬30-million fine Friday for committing "serious" breaches of UEFA's Financial Fair Play regulations, European football's governing body announced.
UEFA said City skirted FFP - which was introduced in 2011 to keep clubs from spending beyond their means - by overstating sponsorship revenue in their accounts between 2012 and 2016. That allowed City to continue spending hundreds of millions of euros in the hopes of winning the Champions League.
But the club countered the charge, saying the process that led to Friday's decision was "flawed."
The club will launch proceedings with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
"Manchester City is disappointed but not surprised by today's announcement by the UEFA Adjudicatory Chamber," the Premier League side said in a statement. "The club has always anticipated the ultimate need to seek out an independent body and process to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence in support of its position.
"In December 2018, the UEFA Chief Investigator publicly previewed the outcome and sanction he intended to be delivered to Manchester City before any investigation had even begun. The subsequent flawed and consistently leaked UEFA process he oversaw has meant that there will little doubt in the result he would deliver."
UEFA launched an investigation into City's affairs in March 2019 after German news outlet Der Spiegel published documents that showed the club had deceived officials. City were accused of manipulating the value of sponsorships they signed, with Der Spiegel reporting that the sponsors had ties with the club's Abu Dhabi-based ownership group.
"Of course, we can do what we want," a club executive said in an email obtained by Der Spiegel.
Gianni Infantino, who was serving as UEFA's general secretary at the time, was also accused of cutting a secret deal with City that allowed them to continue participating in the lucrative Champions League.
City sought damages from UEFA for what they described as "unlawful" leaks to the media. The CAS reportedly dismissed the claim as "groundless" and "unacceptable in tone."
An investigation that dates back to 2014 revealed that City breached FFP rules. The club was fined â¬60 million and ordered to cut its squad from 25 players to 21.
In 2017, UEFA agreed to refund â¬40 million of the initial fine because it felt City had complied with the sanctions imposed.
It's unclear whether the Premier League will lose a European berth if City finish in the Champions League or Europa League places, though there's evidence it won't. When UEFA banned AC Milan in 2019 from European competition for similar FFP violations, the fifth-place Rossoneri forfeited their European spot to Torino, who finished just outside a Europa League place in seventh.
more on TheScore.com