KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: UEFA was left with egg on its corporate face after the high-profile pursuit of Manchester City was dismissed by CAS with the outgoing English champions being handed a mere financial slap on the wrist.
City’s two-year ban from European competition and €30m fine for a breach of financial fair play regulations was downgraded by the Court of Arbitration for Sport to a fine of €10m — to wealthy City the sort of small change the club might absent-mindedly fritter on a third-choice left back.
This was the second major FFP case to end in embarrassment for the European football federation. Its sole consolation is that the concept of financial fair play remains intact.
However the legal loopholes through which City galloped – after Paris Saint-Germain 16 months ago – have either not been addressed or understood within the administration.
The three-man CAS panel decided that City had not disguised disputed revenues as an over-the-top owners’ investment but had failed to cooperate appropriately with UEFA’s investigation.
Other issues were either not established or out of the five-year time limitation. The lack of co-operation did not, in itself, warrant a penalty as severe as exclusion from European competition.
Manchester City, which had always insisted on its innocence, said in a statement: “Whilst Manchester City and its legal advisors are yet to review the full ruling . . . 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.”
UEFA, in turn, said it “takes note” of the verdict.
It added: “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.”
The case, concerning City revenues in the 2012-2016 period, was sparked after the publication by the German news magazine Der Spiegel of confidential internal documents which had been uncovered by the Football Leaks website.
Rui Pinto, a Portuguese hacker behind the website, is currently awaiting trial in Lisbon on charges concerning the hacking of domestic club documentation.
City guaranteed a second-place finish in this season’s English Premier League after beating Brighton 5-0 on Saturday. They face Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-finals on Saturday and will compete in the final stages of the delayed Champions League in August.
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
LAUSANNE: The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has issued its decision in the arbitration procedure between Manchester City Football Club and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).
The case concerns an appeal filed by Manchester City FC (MCFC) against the decision of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the UEFA Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) dated 14 February 2020 in which it was deemed to have contravened UEFA’s Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations and sanctioned with exclusion from participation in UEFA club competitions in the next two seasons and ordered to pay a fine of EUR 30 million.
The Panel of arbitrators in charge of the matter, composed of Mr Rui Botica Santos (Portugal), President, Prof. Ulrich Haas (Germany) and Mr Andrew McDougall QC (France), conducted a hearing with the parties, their legal representatives, witnesses and experts on 8, 9 and 10 June 2020.
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.