The Premier League allegations against Manchester City are unprecedented.
The reigning champions are alleged to have clocked up more than 100 breaches of the competition rules during a 14-year-period in which they have won the competition six times - including four of the last five. They could yet make that five out of six before May ends, although the announcement of these charges will send a shockwave across the game as it once again puts City's finances under the spotlight.
City were temporarily expelled from the Champions League by UEFA for breaching their Financial Fair Play regulations back in 2019. However, the club always insisted that they would be vindicated by an independent judicial body and the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled a year later that the club did not disguise equity funding as sponsorship contributions - but did fail to co-operate with UEFA authorities.
Also read: Man City issue punchy statement in response to Premier League allegations
Two years on, and almost four since they started investigating, the Premier League have refocused the microscope on City's finances with their bombshell statement. Here is a look at what the alleged charges relate to and what happens next.
The first set of charges levelled at City relate to nine years where they have not acted in 'good faith' in terms of reporting their 'accurate financial position' to the league. Clubs have to submit their annual report by March 1 every year that include a breakdown of sponsorship, and future financial information that is projected by March 31. Given it is unlikely City are being retrospectively charged for late submissions, this raft of claims totalling 50 alleged breaches appears to centre on the accuracy of financial information provided.
The second grouping of charges revolves around player and manager contracts. It is alleged that the club did not provide full details of how much Roberto Mancini was paid - part of the Football Leaks investigation claimed that the Italian had been paid extra via a shadow contract - and the same accusation is levelled for player contracts and image rights between 2010 and 2016.
While the Premier League and UEFA have had separate ways of dealing with Financial Fair Play, it is in the rules of the Premier League that clubs need to comply with UEFA regulations. During the period of 2013 to 2018, the club are alleged not to have upheld this. City were found not to have disguised equity funding as sponsorship contributions by CAS, but were found to have failed to co-operate with UEFA authorities.
Between 2015 and 2018, City are alleged to have not submitted its annual report and profit and loss balance sheet "based on the latest information available to the club and be, to the best of the club’s knowledge and belief, an accurate estimate as at the time of preparation of future financial performance". This involves sponsorship again, relating to related party transactions and the fair market value of sponsorships. City have always insisted that they have been in the rules on this, a verdict that CAS held for the claims that UEFA brought.
For the last five seasons, while the Premier League investigation has been underway, it has been levelled at City that they have either acted dishonestly to engage in conduct intended to obstruct the investigation, have not complied promptly and comprehensively either to provide representatives to answer questions and/or to provide documents.
The conclusion of the Premier League investigation and the breaches is to set up an independent commission to hear the arguments and judge the findings. That, at least, is a decision City have welcomed in a statement reacting to the news where they expressed surprise at the allegations and indicated that they had co-operated with the investigation and that there was evidence to clear their name.
After four long years to get to this point, it would be a surprise to see this sorted quickly though. A fair hearing will demand extensive evidence to be heard and read, even if all parties are keen to reach a conclusion.