The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) have ruled that Manchester City did not disguise equity funding as sponsorship contributions, and have therefore overturned the decision to ban the club from UEFA competitions.
CAS did rule that Man City failed to cooperate with the UEFA authorities, and will be fined €10 million ($11.3 million) as a result, reduced from €30 million.
In February 2020, UEFA banned City from UEFA competition for two seasons, and issued a fine of €30m, having adjudged that they had broken Financial Fair Play regulations.
These sanctions came as the result of an investigation by UEFA into the club’s finances between 2012 and 2016, and emails obtained by German magazine Der Spiegel which suggested the club had overstated its sponsorship revenue from Etihad Airways.
City contested that that the emails were “hacked” or “stolen” and, maintaining their innocence, appealed to CAS against the decision.
The result of the appeal was published in a CAS statement on June 13. A section of it read:
“Following the hearing, the CAS Panel deliberated and concluded that the decision issued on 14 February 2020 by the Adjudicatory Chamber of the CFCB [UEFA Club Financial Control Body] should be set aside and replaced by the following:
“a) MCFC has contravened Article 56 of the Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations.
“b) MCFC shall pay a fine of EUR 10,000,000 to the UEFA, within 30 days as from the date of issuance of the arbitral award.”
The Article 56 CAS refers to concerns the cooperation of a club with UEFA and states that a club must: “Cooperate with the licensor and the UEFA Club Financial Control Body in respect of their requests and enquiries.”
The “setting aside” UEFA’s original decision meant the ban no longer applied, and City will now be clear to play in next season’s Champions League which they have already qualified for via a second-place finish in the 2019/20 Premier League.
CAS went on to give further reasons for the decision, and more detailed reasoning is due to be published later this week.
“The CAS award emphasized that most of the alleged breaches reported by the Adjudicatory Chamber of the CFCB were either not established or time-barred,” continued the statement.
“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 released its own statement, choosing to focus on the idea that “many of the alleged breaches were time-barred” as per their own regulations which state: “Prosecution is barred after five years for all breaches of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations.”
In a statement of their own, City “welcomed 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.”
City will resume their 2019/20 Champions League campaign in August, and are currently 2-1 up following the away leg of their Round of 16 tie with Real Madrid.
Pep Guardiola’s side are among the favourites for the competition along with FC Bayern and Paris Saint-Germain.