Manchester City have won their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over alleged financial fair play (FFP) violations and are free to play in the Champions League next season, it was announced on Monday.
City were originally banned from European competitions for two seasons but won their appeal to CAS, meaning fifth place in the Premier League will no longer qualify for the Champions League. Manchester United occupy fifth in the table as it stands.
A statement from CAS read: “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.
“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.”
City took their case to CAS on June 8 after they were initially handed a two-year ban from UEFA competition and a €30 million ($33m) fine issued to them by the Adjudicatory Chamber of the Independent Club Financial Control Body (CFCB). Following Monday’s verdict, the fine was reduced to €10m.
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A Manchester City statement read: “Whilst Manchester City and its legal advisors are yet to review the full ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), 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.”
The CFCB found that City “committed serious breaches” of FFP regulations — which limit the net losses clubs can accrue over a three-year period — between 2012 and 2016 and failed to cooperate with the subsequent investigation.
It was said that the club overstated “its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016.”
In response, City claimed the process was “flawed” and said there was “irrefutable evidence” that would lead to them winning an appeal. FFP was introduced by UEFA at the start of the 2011-12 campaign, as a way of stopping clubs falling into financial difficulties by overspending.
Ahead of Monday’s verdict, manager Pep Guardiola had also voiced his confidence that City would get the ban overturned.
“The intention is every season to play in the Champions League as best as possible, it’s not about Monday,” Guardiola said.
“On Monday, I’m so confident because I know and hear the arguments of the club. Next season we will be there and after I will give my opinion and the club will give a statement.”
City are also still able to compete in this season’s Champions League. They hold a 2-1 first-leg lead over Real Madrid in the round of 16, and will play either Juventus or Lyon in the quarterfinals if they progress.