Manchester City have been banned from competing in the Champions League for the next two seasons after they were found to be in breach of serious Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules .
They have also been fined €30 million (£25m/$33m).
An investigation found that the Adjudicatory Chamber of UEFA's Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) found City guilty of "overstating its sponsorship revenue" between 2012 and 2016.
The CFCB opened an investigation into Man City in March 2019 following allegations that they had broken FFP-related rules . These allegations were first made public by German publication Der Spiegel with documents obtained by whistleblowers Football Leaks .
CFCB found Man City guilty of deliberately inflating the financial value of a sponsorship deal – which would allow them to spend more money – and therefore deceiving UEFA.
The leaked emails found that Man City owner Sheikh Mansour funded the majority of the club’s £67.5m annual sponsorship by Etihad.
One leaked document suggested that Etihad had only funded £8m of that sponsorship in 2015-16, with the rest of the finances being supplied by Abu Dhabi United Group – Mansour’s own company.
According to the reports, City deceived UEFA so that they would be able to meet certain FFP rules that made it mandatory for clubs to break even.
FFP rules are guidelines upheld by UEFA in order to discourage clubs from exploiting their financial superiority and then gaining an unfair advantage.
FFP rules state that what a club spends must be balanced with what they earn. It was introduced to dissuade clubs from overspending in areas such as player wages and transfers.
Lucrative sponsorships increase a club’s revenue, and how much clubs are allowed to spend. The suggestion, then, was that Mansour was privately funding the majority of the Etihad deal – which raised concerns that the club had misled UEFA’s CFCB.
Man City are unwilling to speak in detail about the matter to the media and are expected to maintain this approach until the end of the appeals process.
They have, however, stated that they intend on appealing the ban and have denied any wrongdoing in the past.
Man City said in a statement that they were “disappointed but not surprised” by UEFA’s decision.
They outlined their intention to appeal the ban “at the earliest opportunity” with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), and slammed the "prejudiced" process.
Their statement read: “The club has always anticipated the ultimate need to seek out an independent body and process to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence in support of its position.
"Simply put, this is a case initiated by UEFA, prosecuted by UEFA and judged by UEFA. With this prejudicial process now over, the Club will pursue an impartial judgment as quickly as possible and will therefore, in the first instance, commence proceedings with the Court of Arbitration for Sport at the earliest opportunity."
There is a possibility that the ban could be overturned should City be successful in their appeal. If the ban is overturned, they would be allowed to resume participation in the Champions League and other European competitions.
UEFA rules state that clubs finishing in the Premier League top four automatically qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Should Man City’s ban be upheld, their 2020-21 Champions League spot will go to the club that finishes fifth in the table (assuming that Man City finish in the top four).
According to UEFA’s Champions League rule 4.08 , in the event of a team being disqualified from the competition, their spot goes to the next best-placed club in the top flight.
They state: “A club which is not admitted to the competition is replaced by the next best-placed club in the top domestic championship of the same association, provided the new club fulfils the admission criteria.”
No. UEFA’s decision states that Man City are disqualified from competing in UEFA club competitions, and this includes the Europa League.
They state that Man City “shall be excluded from participation in UEFA club competitions in the next two seasons (ie. the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons)”.
UEFA rules state that whoever wins the Champions League automatically qualifies for next season’s competition, regardless of their domestic league performance.
In this case, however, it is understood that Man City will still not be allowed to compete in next season’s Champions League as titleholders.
They would also be unable to compete in the UEFA Super Cup, and possibly the Club World Cup.
According to the Independent , Man City could be dealt with another huge blow in a possible Premier League points deduction .
It is likely that the Premier League will be made to deal their own punishment to the club in order to be in accordance with UEFA’s FFP regulations.
The punishment could potentially be a points deduction should Man City’s ban not be overturned following the appeal.
With Man City 22 points adrift of Liverpool at the time of UEFA issuing their statement, a potential points deduction would not impact the title race or put them in danger of relegation – though it is not yet clear how many points could be deducted.