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Manchester City have been accused of breaking financial rules by the Premier League as the result of a long-standing investigation. The current defending champions have been hit by over 100 charges over a nine-year span based on the findings of a four-year investigation.

City have consequently been referred to an independent commission with regards to the period between the 2009-18 seasons. The club has also been accused of failure to cooperate with the investigation since late 2018.

This is not City's first run with regulatory authorities. The club was banned from European club competitions but saw that ruling overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2020. UEFA ruled that City seriously breached Financial Fair Play rules between 2012-16.

A Premier League statement has said that City breached rules which required them to provide "accurate financial information that gives a true and fair view of the club's financial position." Included in this information is the club's revenue, notably sponsorship revenue as well as operating costs.

According to the Premier League, City breached rules relating to UEFA regulations which include FFP from 2013-18 as well as the English top flight's profitability and sustainability rules from 2015-18.

There have also been further breaches which concern handing over full details regarding manager remuneration as well as player remuneration in the 2010-16 period. Roberto Mancini was City boss during the 2009-2013 period in question.

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The club has since reacted and expressed their "surprise" at the allegations: "Manchester City FC is surprised by the issuing of these alleged breaches of the Premier League Rules," read an official statement. "Particularly given the extensive engagement and vast amount of detailed materials that the EPL has been provided with.

"The Club welcomes the review of this matter by an independent Commission, to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence that exists in support of its position. As such we look forward to this matter being put to rest once and for all."

City are currently Premier League defending champions, with last season being their sixth title since their 2008 takeover by Abu Dhabi United Group.

What does it all mean for Pep Guardiola's men?

After a long period of investigation, the Premier League has charged Manchester City with breaking financial rules. The defending English champions have been hit with more than 100 charges relating to a nine-year span as part of an investigation which has taken nearly five years to piece together. If guilty, City could have points deducted or even be excluded from the league. The Premier League have also alleged that the club has not been cooperative with the investigation since late 2018.

What is happening?

Five years ago, Der Spiegel published an investigation and used the work of Rui Pinto who is a computer hacker from Portugal. Information obtained from hacked emails of various clubs and agents created the UEFA investigation which in turn spawned the Premier League's case. City have been charged with more than 100 different instances of the club breaking financial fair play rules. The alleged breaches happened over a period of nearly 10 years which dates from 2009 until 2018. During this period, City won the Premier League title three times. The idea of financial fair play is that you spend what you earn. However, there can be shortcuts and those figures are sometimes inflated. The Premier League claims that City broke the rules over multiple seasons in that nine-year span and did not provide the accurate and necessary information about their finances. How much City paid one of their former managers over a four-year period is disputed as the full details were not disclosed. This could, for example, mean that one of City's ex managers was paid more than officially stated. The Premier League also claims that City did not comply with UEFA's financial fair play for over five years and that they are not cooperating with the investigation.

How bad is this?

This is very bad for City and could land them in a lot of trouble at some point. Previous investigations into the club -- this is not their first rodeo -- have involved the likes of UEFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport. City have always denied wrongdoing but UEFA banned them from Europe for two seasons in 2020 and hit them with a heavy fine of more than $32 million. The English club went to CAS and got the suspension overturned and the fine reduced to about one third of its original value. At that time, CAS rules that many of the alleged breaches happened too long ago for European soccer's governing body to deal with. The Premier League's allegations would not be subject to the same sort of time sensitivity which makes it harder for City to bat them away. Also, Premier League rules would reportedly not allow for appeal to CAS by City.

What happens if City are guilty and when?

Premier League rules stipulate that City could be deducted points or even threatened with ejection from the competition. Although City being kicked out of the Premier League is unlikely, a hefty points deduction should not be ruled out. Were that to happen, any deduction would likely apply to the present season so it would have to happen in the next few months to impact this campaign. If it stretches beyond this term, though, City risk it impacting next season. Given how long it has taken to piece all of this together, do not expect it to be over within a few months -- this could really drag on for some time.

Is there an appeal?

City will be heard by an independent commission and the panel will be selected within the Premier League's judicial panel. Any potential judgement can be appealed by both City and the Premier League but it is outside of CAS' jurisdiction this time. An appeal panel would need to be created using entirely new and uninvolved members.