Manchester City will play in the Champions League next season after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) lifted the club’s two-year ban from European football.
City were handed a two-year ban from Uefa‘s competition and a £24.9million fine in February after being found guilty of “serious breaches” of club licensing and Financial Fair Play regulations. The club swiftly signaled its intention to appeal amid speculation that the punishment could cost it some of its biggest names as well as manager Pep Guardiola, and the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport delivered its verdict at 9.30am BST. City’s ban was overturned in its entirety, while the fine was reduced by two thirds to £9.87m.
The Premier League club vehemently denied any wrongdoing and appealed the decision at CAS last month, after previously describing the UEFA disciplinary process as “prejudicial”. After hearing evidence over the course of three days in June, CAS has now overturned the suspension and reduced City’s initial fine after finding “most of the alleged breaches reported were either not established or time-barred”. A statement from CAS read: “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 co-operate with the CFCB’s investigations alone.” 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.”
City are now free to compete in the Champions League next season, having secured second place in the Premier League with a 5-0 win over Brighton on Saturday. The Premier League club welcomed the decision in a statement, which 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.” City is still in this year’s Champions League competition – and secured a 2-1 away win at Real Madrid in their last-16 tie just before football’s shutdown because of the corona virus pandemic.