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UEFA lifts Manchester City Champions League ban

The UEFA’s Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has lifted the ban imposed on Manchester City from participating in the UEFA Champions League over breach of Financial Fair Play guidelines.

In a statement published on its website on Monday, the Europe’s football governing body announced that the ban earlier imposed on Manchester City by Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) has been reduced by CAS.

The statement read: “UEFA takes note of the decision taken by the Court of Arbitration for Sport to reduce the sanction imposed on Manchester City FC by UEFA’s independent Club Financial Control Body for alleged breaches of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play regulations.

“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 5 year time period foreseen in the UEFA regulations.

“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.”

The body also stated that it will not make further comments on the decision of the court.

The CAS passed the judgment on an appeal filed by Manchester City FC (MCFC) against the decision of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the UEFA Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) dated 14 February 2020 in which it was deemed to have contravened UEFA’s Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations.

The CAS judgment

The Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in its judgment said: “Following the hearing, the CAS Panel deliberated and concluded that the decision issued on 14 February 2020 by the Adjudicatory Chamber of the CFCB 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 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.”

Despite lifting ban on City’s participation in Europe’s major competition, the court maintained that City will pay fine.

The judgment further added that: “However, considering i) the financial resources of MCFC; ii) the importance of the cooperation of clubs in investigations conducted by the CFCB, because of its limited investigative means; and iii) MCFC’s disregard of such principle and its obstruction of the investigations, the CAS Panel found that a significant fine should be imposed on MCFC and considered it appropriate to reduce UEFA’s initial fine by 2/3, i.e. to the amount of EUR 10 million.”

Manchester City react

Responding to the judgment, City posted on its website that its legal advisors are yet to review the ruling of CAS but welcome the decision to reduce the ban.

“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,” City’s statement said.

The ban

City were banned by UEFA and handed a 30 million euro ($34 million, £27 million) fine for allegedly overstating sponsorship revenue to hide that they had not complied with financial fair play (FFP) rules between 2012 and 2016.

Following an investigation, the Adjudicatory Chamber of UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) found City guilty of “overstating its sponsorship revenue” between 2012 and 2016.

UEFA’s statement read: “The Adjudicatory Chamber, having considered all the evidence, has found that Manchester City Football Club committed serious breaches of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations by overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016.

“The Adjudicatory Chamber has also found that in breach of the regulations the Club failed to cooperate in the investigation of this case by the CFCB.

“The Adjudicatory Chamber has imposed disciplinary measures on Manchester City Football Club directing that it shall be excluded from participation in UEFA club competitions in the next two seasons (ie. the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons) and pay a fine of €30 million.”

Denying any wrongdoing, City responded with a statement on their website, saying UEFA made the decision even before the investigation had started.

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