Uefa has confirmed it is scrutinising Manchester City's sponsorship deal with Etihad Airways to see whether the club have taken advantage of their Abu Dhabi links to help circumvent the incoming financial fair-play regulations.
The 10-year agreement will be worth close to £400m for City but has led to complaints that the money involved is out of proportion with the scale of the deal.
City have been looking at ways to increase their revenue to help meet the fair-play regulations and avoid any risk of being denied a place in the Champions League in coming years, but Uefa wants to clarify that Etihad, run by the Abu Dhabi government, has paid a market price.
"I have some questions, yes," Jean-Luc Dehaene, the chairman of Uefa's Club Financial Control Panel, said. "If we see clubs that are looking for loopholes we will act. It is not enough to say: 'We've got a sponsorship contract and that's OK' if the contract is out of line."
Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, has complained that the Etihad deal "raises the real question about the credibility of financial fair play" and Liverpool's managing director, Ian Ayre, has also spoken of his concern. "Are Etihad, City and Sheikh Mansour related parties? If they are, it's up to Uefa to rule on them," he said.
City made a loss of £93m in 2008-09, £121m in 2009-10 and the latest figures, due in September, are expected to be even worse, despite an increase in turnover.
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