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.
Recall that in February 2020, Pep Guardiola’s City was patted with a two-year European suspension and fined £25million for flouting FFP rules.
A long investigation was carried out and Uefa’s Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) of found City guilty of wrongly raising their sponsorship revenues when presenting accounts as part of the FFP agreement process.
However, City appealed their verdict and have apparently, succeeded in winning their appeal.
This verdict plunges the whole Financial Fair Play regime into disarray and may lead to notable mishaps among the Uefa hierarchy.
Manchester City were accused of disguising millions of pounds in funding from their Abu Dhabi owners as legal sponsorship deals.
The findings of Uefa’s financial investigators, led by former Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme, were upheld by the governing body’s Adjudicatory Chamber, which imposed the suspension and a fine of £25m.
Subsequently, Guardiola side appealed to the Lausanne-based court in February.
But City insisted on being innocent of the charges and refused to accept the penalty meted out on them.
Therefore, they went on to exercise their legal their right to go to sport’s ultimate legal chamber and made their case at a three-day virtual hearing in June.
Fortunately for the Ethihad side, they were vindicated as the Court ruled that City indeed, failed to cooperate with Uefa investigators. However, they were NOT guilty of the charges against them.
“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,” the Court said.
“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.
Although the ban was lifted, they were still ordered to pay £8.9m for their “disregard” of the principle of cooperation in investigations. Recall that they were initially fined £25m.
From the starting, City maintained that the whole case was based on the “illegal hacking and out of context publication” of internal emails.
City also said that Leterme was their most bitter enemy, accusing him of overseeing a “flawed and consistently leaked” process which they dubbed “wholly unsatisfactory, curtailed and hostile”.
City accused Leterme and his colleagues of “unlawful activities” claiming that Leterme’s recommendation of a ban had been made “improperly and prematurely.
With this development, one of Manchester United, Chelsea or Leicester City will drop from the Champions League spot.
As of today, Chelsea is sitting fourth on the table, Leicester city are fifth while Man United occupy the sixth position.
However, Manchester United has four outstanding matches while Chelsea and Leicester have three outstanding matches each.