LONDON: Finally, the Premier League has taken a step forward in the long-running, almost-forgotten investigation into Manchester City’s finances.

The Premier League champions have been referred to an independent commission over alleged breaches of its financial rules. The panel has yet to be appointed and no time scale has been set so a verdict is unlikely this year and the almost-certain appeal by either party could drag the process out until well into 2024.

City are alleged, between 2009-10 and 2017-18 campaign, to have breached league rules requiring provision “in utmost good faith” of “accurate financial information that gives a true and fair view of the club’s financial position”.

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The league says the accurate financial information required related to “revenue (including sponsorship revenue), its related parties and its operating costs”.

It also accused City of not co-operating since the investigation started in December 2018.

A second set of breaches listed refers to alleged breaking of rules “requiring a member club to include full details of manager remuneration in its relevant contracts with its manager” related to seasons 2009-10 to 2012-13 inclusive.

Manager between December 2009 and May 2013 was current Italy boss Roberto Mancini.

The commission can impose punishments ranging from a fine and points deduction to expulsion from the Premier League.

City have said they were “surprised” by the charges and are supported by a “body of irrefutable evidence”.

A statement read: “Manchester City is surprised by the issuing of these alleged breaches of the Premier League Rules, 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.”

Last season City won their sixth Premier League title since the 2008 takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group.

The Premier League, in its own statement, said City breached rules requiring them to provide “accurate financial information that gives a true and fair view of the club’s financial position”. This information covered club revenue, which includes sponsorship income and operating costs.

Further alleged breaches relate to rules requiring full details of manager remuneration – from the 2009-10 to 2012-13 seasons, when Roberto Mancini was in charge – and player remuneration between 2010-11 and 2015-16.

The Premier League said City breached rules related to Uefa regulations, including Financial Fair Play (FFP), from 2013-14 to 2017-18, as well as Premier League rules on profitability and sustainability from 2015-16 to 2017-18.

In 2020 European football governing body Uefa ruled that City committed “serious breaches” of FFP regulations between 2012 and 2016. However, a two-year ban from European competitions was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport later that year.

UEFA’s investigation was sparked after Der Spiegel published leaked documents in November 2018 alleging the club had inflated the value of a sponsorship deal.

When the Premier League investigation began, City said the allegations were “entirely false” and that allegations in Der Spiegel came from “illegal hacking and out of context publication of City emails”.

City are confident in their position and that includes the charges that were time-barred when the club fought off the UEFA charges in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.