KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Manchester City should know their European fate before the start of the next Champions League season, whenever that may be.
The outgoing English title-holders’ appeal against a two-year ban is being staged between yesterday and tomorrow by the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport. A verdict is likely in late July. Either side could then appeal to the Swiss Federal Court.
Although CAS has conceded a principle of open hearings this one is being held behind closed doors and via video conference.
City, who are still alive in this season’s halted Champions League, were handed the ban in in February for “serious breaches” of club licensing and financial fair play regulations. City have denied the breaches.
The independent adjudicatory chamber of UEFA’s club financial control body ruled that found City had broken the rules by “overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted between 2012 and 2016.” It also complained that the club had “failed to cooperate in the investigation”.
UEFA launched an investigation after German newspaper Der Spiegel published leaked documents in November 2018 alleging City had deliberately inflated the value of a sponsorship deal.
CAS oversees around 700 cases a year and a majority are football matters, notably registration issues.
However this is new ground because the City case is the first in which UEFA has banned a club for two years instead of one over FFP breaches and it is the first time CAS has had to deal with a ban imposed based on information gained from leaks or hacks.
Initially, even UEFA baulked at taking advantage of the information generated by the Football Leaks operation apparently run by the Portuguese hacker Rui Pinto (who now awaits trial in Portugal on violation of privacy and extortion charges.
UEFA clearly felt that a heavy penalty was necessary because City had been penalised once before over financial fair play. That was back in 2014 when they paid a €20m fine.
City have always denied the accusations. Their ceo, Ferran Soriano, said earlier this year: “We did co-operate with this process. We delivered a long list of documents and support that we believe is irrefutable evidence that the claims are not true.”
CAS has previously accepted the use of hacked evidence and the court’s authority has been validated comparatively recently by the Swiss Federal Court which deals with any appeals.