Manchester City could be docked points or even expelled from the Premier League after the English champions were charged with more than 100 breaches of financial rules on Monday.
The Premier League has referred City to an independent commission over the alleged rule breaches between 2009/10 and 2017/18 – a period in which the club took their first steps towards becoming English football's dominant force.
City, who last month topped the Deloitte money league of the world's richest clubs, said they were surprised by the charges and insisted there was "irrefutable" evidence that supports their case.
The club were banned for two years from Uefa competitions in February 2020 by European football's governing body for "serious financial fair-play breaches", but the sanction was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport later that year.
In a statement, the Premier League said the alleged breaches relate to the reporting of accurate financial information, the submission of details of manager and player pay information, a club's responsibility to adhere to Uefa's Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations and to the league's own profitability and sustainability regulations.
City are also alleged to have breached rules requiring them to cooperate and assist with the Premier League's investigations.
Premier League rule W.51 covers the sanctioning powers available to commissions should alleged breaches of league rules be found proven.
These range from a reprimand, through to the deduction of points up to a recommendation to the league to expel a club from the competition.
The commission has the power to make such sanctions conditional on defined actions being taken within a fixed time period, and respondents have a right of appeal.
City issued a statement saying they were "surprised by the issuing of these alleged breaches of the Premier League rules, particularly given the extensive engagement and vast amount of detailed materials that the EPL (English Premier League) has been provided with.
"The club welcomes the review of this matter by an independent commission, to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence that exists in support of its position.
"As such we look forward to this matter being put to rest once and for all."
City chief executive Ferran Soriano is understood to have only been notified by his Premier League counterpart Richard Masters of the referral over alleged breaches as the statement was going live on the league's website.
The club are alleged to have breached league rules requiring provision "in utmost good faith" of "accurate financial information that gives a true and fair view of the club's financial position".
The Premier League said the accurate financial information required relates to "revenue (including sponsorship revenue), its related parties and its operating costs".
The second set of breaches listed refers to alleged breaking of rules "requiring a member club to include full details of manager remuneration in its relevant contracts with its manager" related to seasons 2009/10 to 2012/13 inclusive.
City's manager between December 2009 and May 2013 was current Italy boss Roberto Mancini.
The second set of alleged breaches also refers to requirements for a club to include full details of player remuneration within the relevant contracts, for the seasons 2010/11 to 2015/16 inclusive.
The third section deals with alleged breaches of Premier League rules requiring clubs to comply with Uefa FFP regulations and the fourth set of alleged breaches relates to the Premier League's profitability and sustainability rules.
Finally, the club are alleged to have breached league rules requiring member clubs to cooperate with and assist the Premier League with its investigations, from December 2018 to date.
Last season, City clinched their sixth Premier League title since the 2008 takeover by Sheikh Mansour's Abu Dhabi United Group, but have yet to win the Champions League.
Pep Guardiola's men are second in the Premier League this season, five points behind leaders Arsenal after a 1-0 defeat at Tottenham on Sunday.