Manchester City will play Champions League football next season after successfully overturning their UEFA tournament ban.
City were initially accused of “disguising equity funds as sponsorship contributions” and were given exclusion from the competitions for two years along with a fine of €30 million.
In a short statement posted to the club website, City said: “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.” Before thanking the panel members for their persistence despite difficulties in the case.
Along with being allowed back into Europe’s elite stage, the fine was also reduced to €10 million for failing to cooperate with UEFA’s investigation.
The decision overall has been met with frustration by rival fans, with many feeling it makes a mockery of financial fair play rules.
One Twitter user wrote: “Every club should just ignore the rules from now on.” with another adding: “Football is finished.”
The court of arbitration for sport stand by their decision though, saying: “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 co-operate with the CFCB’s investigations alone.”
However, whilst City’s appeal was successful, the case still might not be closed as UEFA themselves can appeal the independent court’s decision at the Swiss Federal Tribunal in Lausanne. Although sports lawyers aren’t overly optimistic about their chances.
Even if this is the case though, the process would be lengthy enough to allow Champions League football to return to the Etihad in 2020/21.
Featured Image: Manchester City