The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has lifted a two-season ban from European competitions imposed on Manchester City by Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and cleared the English side of allegations by reducing its initial fine of 30 million euros ($34 million, £27 million) to 10 million euros on appeal.
It explained that with the new decision, the last’s year English champion will be free to play Champions League football next season after securing qualification for the Champions League for a 10th consecutive season with a 5-0 mauling of Brighton On Saturday.
It would be recalled that City was accused of deliberately inflating the value of income from sponsors with links to the Abu Dhabi United Group, also owned by City owner Sheikh Mansour, to avoid falling foul of financial fair play regulations between 2012 and 2016, and the case was reopened when German magazine Der Spiegel published a series of leaked emails in 2018.
But, the CAS in its ruling on Monday, held that “most of the alleged breaches reported by the Adjudicatory Chamber of the CFCB (UEFA Club Financial Control Body) were either not established or time-barred”.
Reacting to the CAS ruling, Manchester City lauded the panel’s investigation approach, which it said, gave room for diligence and due process.
The club, through a statement released on through its website, argued that the court’s decision affirmed its earlier position that City was in line with the financial fair play rule.
“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,” the statement read.
On its part, UEFA said it remained committed to the system which limits clubs to not losing more than 30 million euros, with exceptions for some costs such as youth development and women’s teams, over a three-year period.
“UEFA notes that the CAS panel found that there was insufficient conclusive evidence to uphold all of the CFCB’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 regulation.
“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 said in a statement.
Since Sheikh Mansour’s takeover 12 years ago, City’s fortunes have been transformed from perennially living in the shadow of local rivals Manchester United to winning four Premier League titles in the past eight years among 11 major trophies.