CAS’s Man City ruling throws grenade into UEFA’s financial fair play rules

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By Andrew Warshaw

July 14 – High-ranking officials and experts are questioning the entire future of UEFA’s financial fair play rules in the light of Manchester City winning their appeal against a two-year ban from European competition.

The Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS) verdict that City were not guilty of “serious breaches” marked the second time UEFA’s FFP regulations had been legally left wanting and was greeted with alarm and surprise throughout the game.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas, who has described the conduct of clubs like City and Paris St Germain – who have also successfully challenged UEFA’s protocol – as being the equivalent of “financial doping”, said he was hugely disappointed with the CAS judgement.

“We have to reassess whether the CAS is the appropriate body to which to appeal institutional decisions in football,” said Tebas.

“Switzerland is a country with a great history of arbitration, the CAS is not up to standard.”

Understandably City praised the verdict, a statement on the club’s website reading: “Whilst Manchester City and its legal advisors are yet to review the full ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), 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.”

But experts warn UEFA has now lost all authority in trying to stop the rich getting richer.

“I think UEFA has now lost its clout as a means of controlling expenditure in football from a profitability point of view,” Kieran Maguire, a university lecturer and one of Britain’s most knowledgeable football finance figures, was quoted as saying.

“Participation in the Champions League is worth up to £150 million a year, therefore by being allowed to compete in the competition for the next two seasons means we’re probably talking somewhere between £200 million and £250 million.

“Even for a side with the resources of Manchester City, and the financial backing they have, it will allow them to go out in the transfer market and also pay competitive wages during that period.”

“I think FFP will still survive in some form because the other rules are all to do with late payments and transfers, but the break-even model element is now effectively in tatters given PSG had their case thrown out on a technicality. UEFA were so concerned about today as their credibility was on the line.”

Both City and PSG are bankrolled by Middle Eastern money and with UEFA seemingly unable to uphold their own rules, one of the prime movers in drawing up FFP, William Gaillard, says the CAS judgement could simply turn the Champions League into an annual event between the biggest Middle Eastern cash cows.

“Manchester City can receive billions from the Emirates,” Gaillard, UEFA’s one-time communications chief and senior advisor to former UEFA president Michel Platini, the architect of FFP, told the BBC.

“The whole contest will become basically a tournament in Europe between Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. That’s really the enormous danger that professional club football is facing in Europe.”

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