Manchester City launched a stinging attack on UEFA on Thursday after the European football's governing body announced that their investigation into alleged breaches of Financial Fair Play rules had been referred to adjudicators to determine a sanction.
The English champions are bracing themselves for a season-long Champions League ban for the 2020-21 campaign but they are not going down without a fight.
Last month, Sportsmail
understands, they submitted a detailed defence of more than 100 pages and they responded to UEFA's announcement this morning by once again questioning the integrity of the process.
City intend to launch an appeal to any punishment, with the case likely to end at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and in their statement the club said they were 'confident of a positive outcome when the matter is considered by an independent judicial body'.
They added: 'The decision contains mistakes, misinterpretations and confusions fundamentally borne out of a basic lack of due process and there remain significant unresolved matters raised by Manchester City FC as part of what the club has found to be a wholly unsatisfactory, curtailed, and hostile process.'
City said they were 'disappointed, but regrettably not surprised, by the sudden announcement of the referral to be made by the CFCB IC Chief Investigator Yves Leterme.
'The leaks to media over the last week are indicative of the process that has been overseen by Mr Leterme.
'The accusation of financial irregularities remains entirely false and the CFCB IC referral ignores a comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence provided by Manchester City FC to the Chamber.'
While the timing of UEFA's announcement might seem harsh, just two days before Pep Guardiola's side attempted to complete an unprecedented domestic treble by adding the FA Cup to their Premier League and League Cup triumphs, there is a reason why it had to be on Thursday.
It is actually five years to the day of the settlement agreement of May 2014, when City received a fine that was eventually reduced to £17m for FFP breaches, and certain limitations would have been in place on evidence dating back that far.
That, however, has given City insiders to think the decision by a UEFA investigatory chamber that is chaired by Leterme has been rushed through, not least because they appear to have made their recommendation with some unanswered questions in relation to the submission made by City.
City have been facing a Champions League ban since a series of revelations by Football Leaks were published by the German magazine, Der Speigel, last year, including the allegation that they falsely declared millions in sponsorship deals when the money had in fact come from the club's owners in Abu Dhabi.
Leaked emails last November appeared to show how they used direct funding from Abu Dhabi United Group, the investment fund owned by Sheik Mansour to supplement sponsorship deals.
It is claimed the Abu Dhabi United Group, the holding company which owns City, directly paid £59.5m of Etihad's annual sponsorship, with only £8m coming from the airline.
UEFA's rules place a strict limit on the cash an owner can inject directly into a club to prevent over-inflation in the football market.
Whistleblowing hackers Football Leaks also claimed City 'hid' £30.74million in costs from UEFA investigators and threatened to engage the '50 best lawyers in the world' to sue the organisation 'for the next 10 years'.
They obtained an email from City's club lawyer Simon Cliff, who allegedly wrote 'One down, six to go' when informed of the death of Jean-Luc Dehaene, one of the lead UEFA investigators.
In their statement UEFA said: 'The club financial control body (CFCB) chief investigator, after having consulted with the other members of the independent investigatory chamber of the CFCB, has today decided to refer Manchester City FC to the CFCB adjudicatory chamber following the conclusion of his investigation.
'The investigatory chamber had opened an investigation into Manchester City FC on 7 March 2019 for potential breaches of financial fair play regulations that were made public in various media outlets.
'Uefa will not be making any further comment on the matter until a decision is announced by the CFCB adjudicatory chamber.'