By Andrew Warshaw
July 29 – Manchester City showed a “blatant disregard” for UEFA’s investigation into alleged Financial Fair Play (FFP) breaches but, crucially, no cover-up was committed by the club.
That was among the key findings in the Court of Arbitration’s full 93-page report into the case published on Tuesday.
Earlier this month, in a stunning reversal of the previous ruling by UEFA, City won their appeal against a two-year ban from European football when CAS threw out UEFA’s sanction in what was arguably the most significant judgement since FFP was introduced a decade ago.
The allegations were first made by German newspaper Der Spiegel, who published leaked documents back in November 2018 claiming City had misled UEFA.
But to add insult to injury for UEFA, CAS also cut the club’s fine by two-thirds from 30 million to €10 million though in doing so, though it did conclude that City failed to co-operate with independent investigators.
Now, in its full judgement, CAS said it found “no conclusive evidence” that City had “disguised funding from their owner as sponsorship” even though in UEFA’s opinion the case represented “the most serious, sophisticated, deliberate and fundamental attempt to circumvent and violate basic financial fair play principles”.
City have always denied any wrongdoing from the start and CAS ruled that while UEFA had “legitimate basis to prosecute” and “by no means filed frivolous charges against City … the majority of the panel finds that UEFA’s main charges, ie providing incorrect information to UEFA with respect to having received disguised equity funding … must be dismissed.”
However, as a warning shot to other clubs who may try to circumvent the rules, CAS cautioned: “City’s failure to co-operate with the investigation is a severe breach and City are to be seriously reproached” adding that it hoped the €10 million fine would be a “sufficiently strong deterrent”.
Interestingly the documents revealed that in March nine Premier League wrote to CAS to oppose any attempt by City to stay UEFA’s penalty during the appeal process.
As City never made such an application, the request was never processed but the nine clubs were identified as Arsenal, Burnley, Chelsea, Leicester, Liverpool, Man United, Newcastle, Tottenham and Wolverhampton Wanderers – an indication of the strength of feeling about the case whose verdict has led to question marks over UEFA’s entire FFP strategy in the future.
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