UEFA probes finances of top clubs

UEFA probes finances of top clubs

Europe's football governing body UEFA on Wednesday stepped up an inquiry into the finances of top clubs as Manchester City players were named the top earners in world sport.

View during the draw of the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals at the UEFA headquarters on March 19, 2010 in Nyon

UEFA has refused to say which clubs have been called to explain their accounts, but media reports say that Premier League title contenders the Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City and Qatari-owned French champions Paris St Germain could face sanctions.

Both have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to achieve national and European success while UEFA has brought in new rules aiming to stop clubs spending more than they earn.

UEFA's Club Financial Control Body met for a second day in Switzerland as a specialist study said that Manchester City first team players earn an average pound sterling5.3 million ($8.9 million, 6.4 million euros) a year.

The Sporting Intelligence website said the English Premier League club top the global sporting salary list ahead of Major League Baseball teams the New York Yankees and LA Dodgers, with football teams Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Chelsea also featuring in the top 10.

City have spent lavishly on top players since being taken over by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan in 2008. Argentine Sergio Aguero cost about 46 million euros in 2011.

Paris St Germain have also spent hugely on players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who cost more than 37 million.

City's outlay helped them to win the Premier League title in 2012, while Paris St Germain claimed the Ligue 1 crown the following season.

British media reports say both clubs could face a fine under Financial Fair Play rules introduced by UEFA president Michel Platini.

A UEFA spokesman told AFP that "several clubs" had been spotlighted by a hearing of the organisation's Club Financial Control Body.

The governing body would not comment on possible punishments saying only that it "does not provide any details about clubs' ongoing investigations as part of the monitoring process nor will it comment on correspondence between the Club Financial Control Body and clubs".

The decisions by the Club Financial Control Body's Investigatory Chamber are to be made public in early of May, said a UEFA statement.

Under the UEFA rules, clubs are not meant to make losses of more than 45 million euros ($62 million) during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons. Some spending, such as new infrastructure, is exempt however.

City reported losses of pound sterling149 million (180 million euros) for 2011-13. But the club has cut losses in recent years and expressed confidence that it can break even in coming years.

Paris has spent well over 360 million euros on transfers since 2011 when it was taken over by an offshoot of the Qatar Investment Authority.

Clubs found guilty of contravening the UEFA regulations could face punishments including exclusion from the Champions League or being stripped of titles.

But British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, which did not cite sources, said that City and Paris St Germain were more likely to be hit with a financial penalty.

The paper said that "fewer than 20" clubs were at risk of sanctions.

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