Manchester City banned: UEFA ban for two seasons, fine, appeal, reaction


Manchester City, one of the biggest football clubs in the world, have been banned from all UEFA competitions for the next two seasons and fined $A40m for “serious breaches” of Financial Fair Play regulations.

The stunning ban was handed down by the governing body after the Adjudicatory Chamber of the Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) found the reigning English Premier League champs guilty of serious breaches of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play (FFP) Regulations.

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FFP was introduced in 2011 in order to stop European clubs overspending on player wages, restricting the amount owners are able to use of their own cash to cover losses.

In a statement, UEFA said City “overstated its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016”.

The club were also found guilty of “failing to co-operate in the investigation of this case by the CFCB”.

The punishment prevents them from playing in any European competition, including the Europa League, until the 2022-23 season. It could have a significant impact on the club’s ability to sign players and retain manager Pep Guardiola, whose contract expires next season.

“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,” UEFA said in a statement.

CITY RESPOND TO BAN

Man City released a statement shortly after stating they are “disappointed but not surprised” by the verdict, describing the process as “prejudicial”. The case will be taken to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“Manchester City is disappointed but not surprised by today’s announcement by the UEFA Adjudicatory Chamber. The club has always anticipated the ultimate need to seek out an independent body and process to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence in support of its position,” the statement read.

“In December 2018, the UEFA Chief Investigator publicly previewed the outcome and sanction he intended to be delivered to Manchester City, before any investigation had even begun. The subsequent flawed and consistently leaked UEFA process he oversaw has meant that there was little doubt in the result that he would deliver. The club has formally complained to the UEFA Disciplinary body, a complaint which was validated by a CAS ruling.

“Simply put, this is a case initiated by UEFA, prosecuted by UEFA and judged by UEFA. With this prejudicial process now over, the club will pursue an impartial judgment as quickly as possible and will therefore, in the first instance, commence proceedings with the Court of Arbitration for Sport at the earliest opportunity.”

HOW BAN CAME ABOUT

The guilty verdict follows an investigation that was triggered after German magazine Der Spiegel “leaked” emails and documents in November 2018.

They appeared to provide evidence that City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the Abu Dhabi ruling family was mostly funding the $A87m-a-year sponsorship of the club’s shirts, stadium and academy via his nation’s Etihad airline.

One of the emails leaked claimed that just $A15m of that sponsorship in the 2015/16 campaign was funded directly from Etihad.

The rest came via Mansour’s own company vehicle for the ownership of City, the Abu Dhabi United Group.

Money from sponsorships obviously boost revenues and increase how much a team can spend, so if Mansour was funding the Etihad deal himself then it led to the allegation City had deceived Uefa’s CFCB.

The reigning Premier League champions have always denied any wrongdoing since the leaks, denouncing the Spiegel coverage as based on “leaked or stolen” documents that were taken out of context.

Spiegel, whose source was referred to as “John”, say no computers were hacked in order to obtain the emails.

Portuguese national, Rui Pinto, was later identified as “John” and has since been charged with 147 criminal offences, including hacking and other cybercrimes, which he denies.

But none of those charges relate to the City “leak” and are only in relation to Portuguese football clubs.

REACTION TO SHOCK BAN

The news of Manchester City’s shock ban and monster fine sent the football world into meltdown with fans unable to comprehend just what had unfolded.

Many expect the legal battle to drag on with no instant ramifications for the club, but the news was still jaw-dropping.

PREMIER LEAGUE FALLOUT

If Manchester City finish in the top four and their ban is upheld by CAS, it would mean a Champions League place would go to the team who finish fifth in the Premier League.

UEFA rule 4.08 states: “A club which is not admitted to the competition is replaced by the next best-placed club in the top domestic championship of the same association, provided the new club fulfils the admission criteria. In this case, the access list (see Annex A) is adjusted accordingly.”

Sheffield United currently are fifth in the Premier League table on 39 points, two points ahead of Tottenham who have a game in hand.

— with Sky Sports and The Sun.



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