Manchester City’s two-year Champions League ban lifted by Cas – as it happened

Stuart Goodwin on 13 July 2020

Time to wrap up here, but I’ll leave you once again with David Conn’s report on this morning’s news …

Manchester City’s two-year ban from the Champions League for a serious breach of Uefa’s financial fair play rules has been overturned by the court of arbitration for sport, which also reduced the club’s fine to €10m (£9m) from €30m.

Cas’s panel of three lawyers found that City failed to cooperate with the investigations by Uefa’s club financial control body (CFCB), which oversees FFP compliance, and imposed the €10m fine for that. The panel said City had shown a “disregard” for the principle that clubs must cooperate with a governing body’s investigations, and conducted an “obstruction of the investigations”.

However on the central finding by the CFCB’s “adjudicatory chamber” (AC) that City’s Abu Dhabi ownership had disguised its own funding as independent sponsorship by the state’s commercial companies, Cas found “most of the alleged breaches were either not established or time-barred”.

His full report can be found here. Many thanks for joining us this morning. Bye!

A quick rundown of the €10m fine incidentally.

According to xe.com, that currently equates to £8.84m, a little more than Aston Villa paid for Mbwana Samatta in January or Trézéguet last summer. It’s half a Patrick Cutrone, a third of a Pablo Fornals.

To most clubs in world football, it’s a lot of money, but for one with the financial clout that City have behind them, it’s hard to imagine that element of the Cas ruling ruffled too many feathers.

I’m not saying that Barney Ronay started it, but “RIP FFP” has been trending on Twitter since approximately 9.30am + 30 seconds.

Lots of predictable rival club soreness, but in among it all plenty of concern over whether a surge in “financial doping” may be on the way, which could be particularly disastrous at a time when so many clubs below the very top of the game are feeling the coronavirus-related squeeze.

Updated

Celebrity City fan and renowned swearer weighs in …

It is of course excellent news for Pep Guardiola. The quote I mentioned earlier from Kevin De Bruyne caused considerable murmurs about whether a prolonged ban could spell disaster for a squad accustomed to waltzing into the Champions League each season and hoovering up the associated prize and broadcasting money. Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and Aymeric Laporte had all spoken fairly diplomatically on what a ban could mean – hard to imagine any will now be on to their agents this morning.

In fact while many at and around the Etihad will be breathing more easily this morning, it’s possibly tipped talent like Phil Foden, who has impressed while getting the odd appearance here and there, that may have let out the deepest sighs over the news. It’s a loaded first XI to get past at City.

Updated

Updated

Cas will show their full working “in a few days”. Publication of their reasons for reaching the decision may play a significant part in either placating or infuriating those concerned that financial fair play hasn’t quite worked out as advertised.

There is theoretically potential for Uefa to appeal the decision, but I’m not sure anyone’s putting their house on that happening.

Today’s decision takes a lot of edge off the race for fifth place in the Premier League. City’s neighbours United currently hold that spot with 58 points and could move up to fourth with a win over Southampton tonight. Wolves (sixth, 55pts) and Sheffield United (seventh, 54pts) have both played a game more and may not be enjoying their Frosties this morning.

Pos Team P GD Pts
1 Liverpool 35 49 93
2 Man City 35 57 72
3 Chelsea 35 14 60
4 Leicester 35 29 59
5 Man Utd 34 26 58
6 Wolverhampton 35 11 55
7 Sheff Utd 35 5 54
8 Tottenham Hotspur 35 9 52
9 Arsenal 35 7 50
10 Burnley 35 -8 50
11 Everton 35 -11 45
12 Southampton 34 -13 44
13 Newcastle 35 -16 43
14 Crystal Palace 35 -15 42
15 Brighton 35 -16 36
16 West Ham 35 -15 34
17 Watford 35 -21 34
18 AFC Bournemouth 35 -24 31
19 Aston Villa 35 -27 30
20 Norwich 35 -41 21

Updated

A quick reminder by the way that it is possible to leave Google reviews for the court of arbitration for sport …

Google review for Cas.
Google review for Cas. Photograph: Google

Updated

Some of that “better” reaction is filtering through …

Hot take from me: Uefa should consider going with whoever supplies web hosting to both Cas and City. The only one of the trio to not hold firm in the face of a 9.30am traffic jam.

Eleven years ago today btw: Carlos Tevez agreed to sign for City from neighbours United.

More, better, reaction on the way.

A Manchester City fan wears a shirt protesting against Uefa before March’s Carabao Cup final.
A Manchester City fan wears a shirt protesting against Uefa before March’s Carabao Cup final. Photograph: Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Updated

Uefa's statement

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.

UEFA will be making no further comments on the matter.

Here’s a whirlwind report from that man Conn again …

Manchester City’s response to Cas verdict

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.

Cas statement

MANCHESTER CITY FC DID NOT DISGUISE EQUITY FUNDING AS SPONSORSHIP CONTRIBUTIONS BUT DID FAIL TO COOPERATE WITH THE UEFA AUTHORITIES

CAS DECISION: EXCLUSION FROM PARTICIPATION IN UEFA CLUB COMPETITIONS LIFTED; FINE MAINTAINED BUT REDUCED TO EUR 10 MILLION

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.

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.

The full statement is on the Cas website here.

Updated

Cas lift European ban and reduce fine issued to Manchester City

The verdict’s in …

Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City celebrates his goal with Riyad Mahrez during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match against Real Madrid.
Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City celebrates his goal with Riyad Mahrez during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match against Real Madrid. Photograph: Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images

Updated

The decision is expected to be published in the next few minutes. Stand by …

For those coming in cold to this, an earlier David Conn piece is an excellent way to get you up to speed …

Throughout the startling “leaks” of Manchester City’s internal emails in the German magazine Der Spiegel, and the resulting investigation by Uefa which led ultimately to Friday’s guilty finding and two-season Champions League ban and €30m (£25m) fine, City’s response has been uniform: scorn, outrage, denial.

The emails, splashed by Spiegel with evident relish across a series of exposés, punched into City’s expertly and expensively created modern image in three broad areas relating to Uefa’s financial fair play rules, which were introduced in 2011 to deter clubs from overspending.

Back in May, De Bruyne was in no mood to commit his future should a two-year ban be upheld. At that point he said: “Once the decision is made, I will review everything. Two years would be long, but in the case of one year I might see.”

But what? And who? And why? And how?

At knotty times like this, David Conn is the untangler you can trust …

Over the weekend, Pep had this to say:

“I’m confident in the club, the arguments, the defence they had, and that next season we’re going to [take up] the place we won on the pitch this season. But we have to wait. I know there are many teams [who may qualify for the Champions League instead of City] in the Premier League waiting too. But we are going to wait.”

Preamble

Today’s the day, then. The court of arbitration for sport are due to rule on Manchester City’s two-year ban from the Champions League. The sanction, handed out by Uefa back in February, saw the club banned from Europe for two seasons and fined €30m (£25m) after they were found to have seriously misled European football’s governing body and broken the financial fair play rules by exaggerating the level of sponsorship income from companies in Abu Dhabi.

City, for their part, have always denied any wrongdoing and have held a firm front against the accusations, with Pep Guardiola last week expressing full confidence that the club would be vindicated. This confidence showed signs of eroding over the weekend.

The manager says he’ll honour his contract whatever happens. The implications for recruitment, however, with Kevin De Bruyne having already casually dropped in the prospect of an upheld verdict meaning he’ll consider his future, are less clear.

Cas’s decision is expected at 9.30am BST, and there will doubtless be plenty of fallout either way. Stand by your beds …

Latest football headlines

Latest Football News