Financial fair play Q&A What the case was all about in a nutshell
What was this case all about?
In February, Manchester City were banned from European competition for two years and fined €30 million (£27 million) for “serious breaches” of Uefa’s financial fair play rules and for failing to cooperate with an investigation. The club were found to have overstated sponsorship revenue and break-even information in accounts submitted between 2012 and 2016. It followed an investigation into documents obtained by Football Leaks and published in November 2018, which allegedly showed they had sought to cover up the scale of the FFP breach for which they had been fined £49 million – reduced to £16.3 million – four years earlier.
Why was the ban overturned?
The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled “most of the alleged breaches” were “either not established or time-barred”. Cas upheld the guilty verdict imposed for failing to cooperate, but reduced the fine to €10 million, ruling “it was not appropriate to impose a ban for failure to cooperate with the Club
Financial Control Body’s investigations alone”. Its justification for this and details on which alleged breaches were “not established or time-barred” should emerge when Cas publishes its final award with reasons.
Can decision be appealed against?
Technically, Cas verdicts can be appealed against at the Swiss Federal Tribunal. However, it
is all but unheard of for a governing body not to accept the ruling of sport’s highest court.
What does this mean for City?
It is a stunning triumph. Exile from Europe, even for one season, could have cost £100 million. The ban had also raised doubts over the futures of manager Pep Guardiola and some star players.
What does it mean for other clubs?
If the ban had been upheld, the fifth-placed club in the Premier League would have qualified for the Champions League.
What does this mean for FFP?
“FFP RIP” was trending on Twitter after the ruling. This case was billed as a fight over the future of Uefa’s regulations, the reputation of which had taken a battering due to previous high-profile defeats at Cas – notably by Paris St-Germain. The fact both the PSG and City cases unravelled partly due to issues over statutes of limitations written into Uefa’s own rules is a damning indictment of them.
What about the Premier League’s City probe?
As well as the FFP investigation, City were also being probed by the Premier League over financial issues, academy recruitment and third-party ownership. That investigation – which began in March 2019 – remains ongoing. It has been suggested that the Premier League was waiting for the Cas judgment before taking matters any further.