London, Jul 13 (efe-epa).- Manchester City’s two-year ban from European football for breaching financial fair play regulations (FFP) has been overturned, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said Monday.
The fine that the club was ordered to pay has also been reduced from 30 million euro ($33.9 million) to 10 million.
The ruling means that the Citizens are once again eligible to compete in Uefa competitions, including the Champions League.
It also means that they are likely to retain a host of their star players, as well as manager Pep Guardiola, beyond the end of their current contracts now that the team will be able to play in the continent’s elite competition.
Uefa’s Club Financial Control Body (CFCB), which oversees the application of FFP, found in February that City had committed “serious breaches” of the financial regulations by overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts as well as failing to cooperate with investigations.
But the CAS concluded after hearing City’s appeal that allegations made by UEFA’s financial controllers of “breaches” of the body’s FFP rules “were either not established or time-barred.
“As the charges with respect to any dishonest concealment of equity funding were clearly more significant violations than obstructing the CFCB’s investigations, it was not appropriate to impose a ban on participating in UEFA’s club competitions for MCFC’s failure to cooperate with the CFCB’s investigations alone.”
However, the court found that City should be fined for its “disregard” for the procedure and “its obstruction of the investigations” warranted a “significant fine” of 10 million euro.
In a statement, City welcomed the 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.”
The CAS decision is a major blow to Uefa and its financial rules.
In response to the verdict, European football’s governing body said: “Uefa notes that the CAS panel found that there was insufficient conclusive evidence to uphold all of the CFCB’s conclusions in this specific case and that many of the alleged breaches were time-barred due to the five-year time period foreseen in the Uefa regulations.
“Over the last few years, financial fair play has played a significant role in protecting clubs and helping them become financially sustainable and Uefa and ECA [European Club Association] remain committed to its principles.”
The decision means that City’s place in next year’s Champions League is already guaranteed, as the team are 14 points ahead of Manchester United in fifth place with only three games left. EFE-EPA