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”.
As those were the most serious findings, that had resulted in the AC banning City from European competition for two years, “clearly more significant violations than obstructing [Uefa’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,” Cas said.
The quashing of the two-year ban represents a major victory for City’s hierarchy in the conclusion of this bitterly-contested episode, and a defeat for Uefa and its semi-independent CFCB structures. No full judgment was issued by Cas, only a brief one-page press release, so the full reasons and explanations will not be made public for “a few days”, Cas said.
City said in a statement: “The club welcomes the implications of today’s ruling as a validation of the cub’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.”