Manchester City banned from Champions League for 2 years by UEFA

Manchester City banned from Champions League for 2 years by UEFA

In one of the most shocking and controversial developments in world football of late, Manchester City has been banned for the next two seasons of the UEFA Champions League. UEFA, the governing authority for the Champions League, has found serious breaches committed by Manchester City in terms of the Financial Fair Play laws. The Manchester City football team will be fined a whopping €30 million along with being banned from the 2020-21 and 2021-22 UEFA Champions League competitions.

UEFA has already released its statement, saying that the football club was found guilty by the Adjudicatory Chamber, of committing several serious offences in terms of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations. The club was found guilty of overstating revenues from sponsorships in its account books and also for break-even data submitted between 2012-16 to UEFA. Manchester City has also been charged with non-cooperation in the investigation by the CFCB (Club Financial Control Body). Manchester City has already responded to the decision taken by UEFA, stating that the club was disappointed but not surprised.

What are the key take-aways here?

As seen in the light of its response, Manchester City has apparently admitted to the fact that trouble is brewing ahead. Sometime earlier, the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) has already stated that a dispute has been observed between UEFA and Manchester City with regard to the investigation process. City has already tried to appeal to the CAS before any punishment was declared. Yet, they were unsuccessful and now have to acknowledge the consequences. They can only attempt to win the UEFA Champions League in the current season and this will do major damage to the regulations at UEFA because the team winning the tournament qualifies automatically for the next season.

However, even if Manchester City does end up lifting the Champions League title, the club will still be banned for 2 years from the contest. Hence, Pep Guardiola and his men will be looking to temporarily end their association with the premier footballing event, on a high note.

What may have actually happened?

There were several rumors floating around from 2018 onwards that Manchester City had been dodging UEFA Financial Fair Play or FFP laws along with other requirements for licensing. One allegation clearly stated that Abu Dhabi United Group or ADUG, a holding company owned by the billionaire brother of the Ruler of the UAE (United Arab Emirates), Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan, funneled money towards sponsors of Manchester City based in Abu Dhabi. This money was then re-routed to the Manchester City football club as sponsorship. What makes this even more ironic is that the Sheikh is the owner of the club and hence the scheme violates UEFA regulations.

There were several Football Leaks in 2018 that contained such allegations although Manchester City refused to respond to the same. Later on, the club claimed that all these articles were made on the basis of stolen and hacked documents and were absolutely baseless. An investigation was started in 2019 by the investigatory body of UEFA. City has previously stated that the club had gone through an improper procedure for investigation where a lot of evidence was ignored.

Impact of the UEFA ban

Manchester City, assuming their future appeals fail, will have to bear a financial hit much higher than the fine of the €30 million. There will be 2 years without playing the Champions League and foregoing prize money estimated at approximately €200 million or even more. The revenue losses may lead to a downward movement of finances which will make it impossible for Manchester City to maintain their costly lineup at the moment.

Many players may even attempt to nullify their contracts on the basis of the misconduct of the club. 2 years without playing in the UEFA Champions League may also lead to Pep Guardiola reconsidering his own future with the team. The trouble brewing may spill over into the

 which has its own version of the FFP regulations. If City is found to violate the same as well, then further action may be taken by the authorities. City has been found guilty for a period between 2012 and 2016 although if the club has been violating regulations after this period as well, there may be more punishments in store. Some pundits have stated that if Manchester City ends up winning the UEFA Champions League this season, this victory may also be nullified as a punishment. The CAS has to take a decision prior to the 15th of July, 2020, so that the representation from England can be submitted for two club competitions of Europe. The process may be fast-tracked but Manchester City may keep fighting any negative judgment through all means. The punishment may ultimately be postponed as well, depending on the amount of time it takes to reach a final outcome.

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