City’s Champions League boost after ban overturned
Hope: Pep Guardiola (pic: SNS Group)
Manchester City will compete in the Champions League next season after overturning a ban from European competitions.
The club was hit by a two-year ban in February after UEFA ruled it had committed “serious breaches” of Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations between 2012 and 2016.
City had been accused of falsely inflating the value of sponsorship deals to comply with FFP, a charge the club had always denied.
City took their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which cleared them of “disguising equity funds as sponsorship contributions”.
CAS ruled that City did “fail to cooperate with UEFA authorities” but overturned the decision by UEFA’s club financial control body (CFCB) to ban them. They also reduced the club’s €30 million fine to €10m.
In a statement, CAS said the decision “emphasised that most of the alleged breaches reported by the adjudicatory chamber of the CFCB were either not established or time-barred” and added that it was “not appropriate to impose a ban on participating in UEFA’s club competitions” for the lesser charge of “obstructing the CFCB’s investigations”.
The ruling is a hammer blow for FFP and questions will now be asked about its role in football.
The news will give City hope of persuading manager Pep Guardiola to sign a new contract.
UEFA could appeal to the federal courts in Switzerland though that process is unlikely to begin before the 2020-2021 Champions League campaign gets under way.