Mirror Online: UK, Monday, July 13, 2020 – Manchester City have won their appeal against their two-year Champions League ban.
City had been banned by UEFA for breaking financial fair play rules, but have had the decision overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The ruling means Pep Guardiola’s side are free to play in the Champions League next season and have also had their fine reduced from £25million to £8.9million.
In reaching the ruling and the overturning of UEFA’s initial decision, CAS released its findings in a statement which read: “As the charges with respect to any dishonest concealment of equity funding were clearly more significant violations than obstructing the CFCB’s investigations, it was not appropriate to impose a ban on participating in UEFA’s club competitions for MCFC’s failure to cooperate with the CFCB’s investigations alone.”
UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body imposed the ban – and a £25million fine – on February 14 after ruling City had committed “serious breaches” of the organisation’s financial fair play rules between 2012 and 2016.
City launched an immediate appeal to CAS, claiming the investigation was flawed because it was not independent and that alleged leaks to the media during the process had undermined its credibility.
A statement from European football’s governing body made clear their unhappiness at what they see as many of City’s alleged breaches being “time-barred.”
A UEFA statement declared: “UEFA takes note of the decision taken by the Court of Arbitration for Sport to reduce the sanction imposed on Manchester City FC by UEFA’s independent Club Financial Control Body for alleged breaches of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play regulations.
“UEFA notes that the CAS panel found that there was insufficient conclusive evidence to uphold all of the CFCB’s conclusions in this specific case and that many of the alleged breaches were time-barred due to the 5 year time period foreseen in the UEFA regulations.
“Over the last few years, Financial Fair Play has played a significant role in protecting clubs and helping them become financially sustainable and UEFA and ECA remain committed to its principles.”
The Blues were fined £49m and had their Champions League squad restricted to 21 players for breaking financial fair play regulations in 2014.
Timeline of events
May 2014: City are fined £49million for breaking Financial Fair Play (FFP) and have their Champions Leagues squad reduced from 25 to 21 players for the 2014-15 season. Eight other teams, including Paris St Germain, are also sanctioned for failing to comply with the rules.
November 2018: Der Spiegel publishes a series of leaks, claiming City manipulated sponsorship deals to comply with FFP, chiefly that the Abu Dhabi United Group, which owns City, pumped money into the club, under the guise of external sponsorship deals, to meet the UEFA-imposed limit on losses.
March 2019: UEFA launch an investigation into the allegations against City, which brands them “false accusations” and claims they are based solely on the “illegal hacking and out of context publication of City emails”.
May 2019: UEFA refer City to their Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) following the conclusion of the investigation, which determines there is a case to answer for the Premier League club.
June 2019: City lodge a formal appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over UEFA’s decision to refer them to the CFCB. The appeal to have the investigation thrown out is rejected by CAS.
February 2020: City are banned from European competition by UEFA for two years and fined £25m for “serious breaches” of FFP. City launched an immediate appeal against the decision with CAS.
July 2020: City win their appeal with CAS, who overturn the two-year European ban, but still imposed a fine of £9m, after concluding the club failed to cooperate with and obstructed the investigation process.