Most European clubs view Champions League glory as the ultimate prize, but, as the saying goes, you have to be in it to win it.
That could prove problematic for reigning Premier League champions Manchester City, as the club faces a potential ban from European competition over a Financial Fair Play investigation carried out by UEFA, according to the Guardian's Paul MacInnes. That suspension could even come into effect as early as next season.
The initial conclusion of the investigation into City correspondence, which was spotlighted by Der Spiegel and Football Leaks, is that the club has been misleading UEFA over its finances, The Associated Press' Rob Harris reports.
Leaked files from 2015 - just a year after City were fined £49 million for breaching FFP regulations, according to MacInnes - suggest almost £60 million of the £67.5 million in revenue made from sponsor Etihad Airways was funneled back into the club. That particular claim stems from an internal email sent by City's chief financial officer Jorge Chumillas to club director Simon Pearce.
Der Spiegel's report also noted a secret scheme - "Project Longbow" - which City apparently used to effectively conceal around £40 million in payments to players after the club had agreed to a €20-million FFP settlement, according to the Telegraph's Tom Morgan. The club is additionally accused of manipulating sponsorship deals by backdating them.
Abu Dhabi United Group was also alleged to have been sending money to a shell vehicle created to supposedly buy the rights to use players' images in marketing campaigns, writes Harris.
An undisclosed City source suggested to Harris that UEFA is currently weighing whether to open disciplinary proceedings against individuals at the club who may be involved in attempts to misrepresent club finances.
"We are assessing the situation. We have an independent body working on it. Very soon, you will have the answers on what will happen in this concrete case," UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said of the matter Monday.
City's position remains predictable.
"We will not be providing any comment on out-of-context materials purportedly hacked or stolen from City Football Group and Manchester City personnel and associated people. The attempt to damage the club’s reputation is organized and clear," read a club statement, according to MacInnes.
It's worth noting that the media watch section on the club's website had previously displayed unsubstantiated press reports suggesting clubs such as Inter Milan and Paris Saint-Germain could be in breach of FFP rules. Those articles were erased from the website after City were approached for comment by AP, reports Harris.