Manchester City, the reigning Premier League champion in addition to one of the entire world’s richest soccer clubs, has been barred coming from the Champions League for the next two seasons for “serious breaches” of European soccer’s financial regulations.
The decision, announced Friday by an independent financial control body of UEFA, the governing body for soccer in Europe, found in which Manchester City had been guilty of multiple violations related to club licensing in addition to so-called financial fair play rules — cost controls put in place by UEFA to try to mitigate the growing gap between rich clubs in addition to poor ones in European leagues, in addition to to tackle a growing debt crisis. The club, which also was criticized for failing to cooperate with UEFA’s investigators, also was fined 30 million euros ($32.5 million).
The penalty will be the most significant punishment UEFA has handed out from the decade since This particular created its financial fair play regulations, in addition to if upheld its consequences for Manchester City’s balance sheet in addition to its competitive future could be severe. Participation from the Champions League will be worth about $100 million a year to the club, in addition to missing out on This particular could factor into the career decisions of some of the team’s star players, potential signings in addition to even City’s coach, Pep Guardiola.
The ban has no effect on This particular year’s Champions League; Manchester City, which has never won the competition, will play Real Madrid on Feb. 26 from the first leg of a home-in addition to-home series from the round of 16. in addition to City, which will be currently second from the Premier League, may be able to delay a ban for next season if its appeal will be not resolved before the 2020-21 Champions League begins This particular fall.
UEFA’s decision also raises the prospect of further penalties coming from the Premier League, which has its own cost control regulations in which rely on clubs’ providing accurate financial information. The Premier League said last March in which This particular had opened an investigation into Manchester City from the wake of leaks of the club’s internal documents from the Football Leaks hacking scandal. The Premier League’s chief executive, Richard Masters, last week declined to answer when asked about the status of in which investigation.
Shortly after UEFA’s ruling, City issued a statement indicating This particular would certainly appeal the Champions League ban.
“Manchester City will be disappointed nevertheless not surprised by today’s announcement by the UEFA Adjudicatory Chamber,” the statement said. “The Club has always anticipated the ultimate need to seek out an independent body in addition to process to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence in support of its position.”
Manchester City already has sought to short-circuit the investigation by financial regulators at UEFA — in addition to preserve its place from the Champions League, European soccer’s richest competition in addition to the trophy the club covets most — by appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. nevertheless in November the court rejected the appeal, in which City had tried to end the investigation on procedural grounds, by ruling in which This particular could not hear the case until the club had exhausted the disciplinary process at UEFA.
The earlier decision at CAS was not, its officials noted at the time, a verdict on whether Manchester City did or did not breach financial regulations, a charge in which English soccer authorities in addition to officials at UEFA had been investigating for months.
Manchester City has vigorously denied wrongdoing, in addition to its officials had warned UEFA in which they would certainly mount an aggressive response to any effort to bar the club coming from the competition. “The accusation of financial irregularities are entirely false,” City said in a statement last year, after news media reports in which This particular would certainly face a one-year ban.
Critics fear in which City’s ability to avoid punishment would certainly be a death blow for UEFA’s ability to impose financial limits on its clubs. Those rules, in place since 2011, were designed to impose a measure of financial fairness within the European soccer economy, nevertheless powerful clubs — including City, as well as Paris St.-Germain, A.C. Milan in addition to others — have routinely avoided serious punishment for breaking them.
Javier Tebas, the president of La Liga, the Spanish top flight, in addition to a longstanding, outspoken critic of Manchester City praised UEFA for “finally taking decisive action.”
“Enforcing the rules of financial fair play in addition to punishing financial doping will be essential for the future of football,” Tebas said. “We have been calling for severe action against Manchester City in addition to Paris St.-Germain for years. Better late than never.”
Manchester City has assembled one of the best, in addition to most expensive, teams from the entire world through the backing in addition to financial might of the club’s owner: Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the brother of the ruler of the United Arab Emirates. Sheik Mansour has invested hundreds of millions of dollars over the past two decades — on players, coaches, facilities in addition to the team’s operations — to transform Manchester City, which played in England’s second tier as recently as 2002, into one of soccer’s biggest in addition to most successful clubs.
Many of the allegations of financial impropriety against Manchester City came to light after they were reported by news media outlets with access to the Football Leaks files. The files are said to include emails in addition to internal club documents showing efforts by City to get around UEFA’s financial fair-play regulations. The scheme involved funneling millions of dollars coming from a United Arab Emirates state-backed investment company through inflated sponsorship agreements with entities including the U.A.E.’s national airline, Etihad.
UEFA’s rules permit sponsorships coming from companies linked to a club’s owners, provided the agreements are struck at prices in which reflect the market rate. The Etihad deals allowed the club to report tens of millions of dollars in income in which was used to offset spending on completely new players.
City has been aggressive in its approach to UEFA’s financial regulations for years. According to one of the leaked emails, details of which were published by the German outlet Der Spiegel, a club lawyer, Simon Cliff, cited the club’s chairman during an earlier financial fair play investigation as saying “he would certainly rather spend 30 million pounds on the 50 best lawyers from the entire world to sue them for the next 10 years.”
in which process ended with City’s agreeing a settlement with UEFA in 2014 in which the club accepted a fine of 49 million pounds in addition to a restriction on its squad size in addition to transfer market spending.
Manchester City dismissed the initial reports of renewed financial impropriety as “an organized in addition to clear attempt” to smear the club’s reputation, in addition to complained in which any club documents had been obtained illegally. in addition to CAS seemed to agree with some of the club’s arguments even as its dismissed Manchester City’s appeal in November.
The court suggested the governing body’s behavior in a separate case involving A.C. Milan highlighted a “rather nontransparent internal policy.” This particular also said the leaks of Manchester City’s internal documents, details of which remain confidential, in addition to have not been linked directly to UEFA or any of its officials, were “worrisome.”
In its coming appeal, Manchester City may point to inconsistencies from the manner in which UEFA dealt with P.S.G. in addition to its financial fair play case, even though the cases are not entirely similar. In City’s case, UEFA concluded club officials had misled investigators in addition to acted in bad faith when they presented details of sponsorship agreements in which the leaked emails showed were not independent of the team’s wealthy owner.
In leaked emails, a club official stated in which only a fraction of the sponsorship agreement with Etihad came coming from the airline; the rest, the email said, would certainly be paid for by an investment vehicle controlled by Sheikh Mansour.
Unlike City’s owners, though, P.S.G. officials have been able to cultivate a close relationship with UEFA, where the club’s president holds a seat on the organization’s executive committee. The president, Nasser al-Khelaifi, will be also a major executive at beIN Media Group, a broadcast company in which will be the biggest buyer of UEFA’s television rights.