The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has lifted Manchester City‘s two-year ban from European club competitions.
The CAS on July 13 announced that the club were cleared of “disguising equity funds as sponsorship contributions”.
CAS’ ruling means Manchester City, who are guaranteed to finish second in the Premier League this season, will play in the 2020-21 Champions League.
Earlier, UEFA punished Manchester City in February for “serious breaches” of rules monitoring club finances and failing to cooperate with investigators.
The allegations included that City, owned by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh, misled UEFA over several years to meet financial integrity rules — known as Financial Fair Play — required to enter European club competitions.
The published evidence appeared to show City deceived UEFA by overstating sponsorship deals from 2012-16 and hid the source of revenue linked to state-backed companies in Abu Dhabi.
City never disputed the documents were authentic, but argued the evidence was stolen and reported out of context.
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.
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.