Manchester City’s appeal against a two-year ban from European football will be heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on June 8-10.
City were handed the ban and fined £24.9m on February 14 for “serious breaches” of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play and club licensing regulations, after being found guilty by an Adjudicatory Chamber of the Club Financial Control Body (CFCB).
In a statement, UEFA said City “overstated its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016”.
The club were also found guilty of “failing to cooperate in the investigation by the CFCB” and will be banned from Europe in the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons.
The club immediately made clear their intentions to challenge that ruling, saying in a statement at the time that they were “disappointed but not surprised” by the verdict, describing the process as “prejudicial”.
City’s chief executive Ferran Soriano described the allegations as “false”, adding that the club “will do everything that can be done to prove so”.
The club were also fined €30m – which currently equates to £26.35m.
FFP was introduced by UEFA at the start of the 2011-12 season as an attempt to prevent clubs falling into serious financial difficulty by overspending.
All clubs competing in UEFA competitions are expected to operate within their means and meet break-even targets, while dealings have to be transparent.
Earlier this month, Kevin De Bruyne admitted he will consider his future if City’s two-year ban from European competition stands.
“The club has told us that they will appeal the decision, and they are 100 per cent convinced that they are in the right,” De Bruyne told Belgian outlet Het Laatste Nieuws.
“I have confidence in my club: if they are saying it’s true, then I believe them. We’ll wait and see what happens. Once there’s a final decision I will look at it.
“Two years [without Champions League football] would be long. One year is something I might be able to cope with.”
City have a decent chance of overturning this ban. Up until now, this case has been investigated and judged by independent lawyers, judges and politicians who make up UEFA’s financial control body.
When this case is heard at CAS next month, it will be the first time UEFA itself will have to defend the decision.
In the past, when taking on UEFA at CAS, big European clubs such as PSG, Galatasaray and AC Milan have all been successful – they turned up with some of the best sports lawyers in the world and had their appeals upheld and/or their bans reduced.
Up against them, UEFA has sometimes not sent legal representatives, just written submissions.
If I was a City fan, I wouldn’t be confident but I would be hopeful that this ban may be reduced or even overturned.