Manchester City Escape Champions League Ban

Manchester City Football Club did not disguise equity funding as sponsorship contributions but did fail to cooperate with the UEFA authorities ruled the Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS).


The court’s ruling sees City’s exclusion from participation in UEFA club competitions lifted and its fine maintained but reduced to €10 million.


Manchester City appealed against the decision of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the UEFA Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) in February 2020 in which they were deemed to have contravened UEFA’s Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations and sanctioned with exclusion from participation in UEFA club competitions for two seasons and ordered to pay a fine of €30 million.


The Panel of arbitrators in charge of the matter deliberated and concluded that the decision issued by the CFCB should be set aside but stated the club had contravened Article 56 of the Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations.


The CAS award emphasised that most of the alleged breaches reported by the Adjudicatory Chamber of the CFCB were either not established or time-barred, stating “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.”


The CAS Panel found that a significant fine should be imposed on City but it considered it appropriate to reduce UEFA’s initial fine by 2/3.


Following the ruling, UEFA released a statement which read: “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.”


Whilst the reduced sanctions were a positive outcome for City, the club stated they would be reviewing the full ruling with their legal advisers but thanked CAS for their due process and diligence during the appeal.  


Image: PA Images