Manchester City has won its appeal to the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport Monday morning, which allows the Blues to play in the UEFA Champions League.
UEFA had issued a two-year ban to the English side — currently second in the Premier League, and guaranteed a spot in the premier continental competition this fall — in February for “serious breaches” in Financial Fair Play rules, alleging that it had overinflated sponsorship revenues and its break-even figures for a period between 2012-16.
The CAS ruling reads:
“The CAS award emphasized that most of the alleged breaches reported by the Adjudicatory Chamber of the UEFA Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) were either not established or time-barred.
“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.
“However, considering i) the financial resources of MCFC; ii) the importance of the cooperation of clubs in investigations conducted by the CFCB, because of its limited investigative means; and iii) MCFC’s disregard of such principle and its obstruction of the investigations, the CAS panel found that a significant fine should be imposed on MCFC and considered it appropriate to reduce UEFA’s initial fine by two-thirds, i.e. to the amount of EUR 10 million.”
In American dollars, Manchester City will pay $11.3 million in fines to UEFA.
The Blues were obviously thrilled with the ruling.
“Whilst Manchester City and its legal advisors are yet to review the full ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the Club welcomes the implications of today’s ruling as a validation of the Club’s position and the body of evidence that it was able to present. The Club wishes to thank the panel members for their diligence and the due process that they administered,” it said in a statement.
UEFA, on the other hand, was not.
“UEFA notes that the CAS panel found that there was insufficient conclusive evidence to uphold all of the (Club Financial Control Body)’s conclusions in this specific case and that many of the alleged breaches were time-barred due to the five-year time period foreseen in the UEFA regulations,” the European confederation said in a statement. “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. UEFA will be making no further comments on the matter.”
Had the ban been upheld, City would have been ineligible in playing in the UEFA Champions League or the Europa League competitions regardless if it qualified via league positioning or via winning a domestic trophy. With Manchester City ‘s positioning in England’s top flight, its spot in the Champions League would have gone to the fifth-place side — currently crosstown rivals Manchester United — with the sixth-place side guaranteed a berth into the Europa League.
Manchester City also won the Football League Cup in February, and is still alive in the FA Cup and the Champions League. Should the Blues win the FA Cup, its berth for winning would go to the next club in line; fifth is an automatic entry in to the Europa League, as well as the League Cup berth going to sixth; the FA Cup would go to the seventh.
If City wins the Champions League, UEFA has determined the spot will go to Dutch champion Ajax.