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Manchester City to Play in Champions League Next Season, CAS Overturns European Ban on Appeal

Manchester City (Photo Credit: Reuters)

Manchester City (Photo Credit: Reuters)

Manchester City's two-year European ban, imposed by UEFA for breachinf FFP rules, was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Manchester City will be free to play in Champions League after the Court of Arbitration for Sport lifted a two-season ban from European competitions imposed by UEFA on Monday.

City were accused of deliberately inflating the value of income from sponsors with links to the Abu Dhabi United Group, also owned by City owner Sheikh Mansour, to avoid falling foul of financial fair play (FFP) regulations between 2012 and 2016.

The case against City was reopened when German magazine Der Spiegel published a series of leaked emails in 2018.

CAS ruled that City did not breach Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules by disguising equity funding as sponsorship. The court also reduced a fine for failing to cooperate with UEFA to 10 million euros ($11.30 million) from 30 million euros.

"Most of the alleged breaches reported by the (UEFA) Adjudicatory Chamber of the CFCB were either not established or time-barred," CAS said in a statement.

In February, UEFA imposed a fine of 30 million euros ($32 million, £25 million) on City breaching financial fair play (FFP) rules, as well as suspending them from European competitions for the next two seasons.

City welcomed the decision that will have huge ramifications on the club's finances and potentially the future of manager Pep Guardiola and star players such as Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling.

"Whilst Manchester City and its legal advisors are yet to review the full ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the club welcomes the implications of today's ruling as a validation of the club's position and the body of evidence that it was able to present," City said in a statement.

"The club wishes to thank the panel members for their diligence and the due process that they administered."

UEFA released a statement on the ruling, saying that 'that many of the alleged breaches were time-barred'.

"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 5 year time period foreseen in the UEFA regulations," UEFA said in a statement.

"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 remain committed to its principles," the statement added.

Since Sheikh Mansour's takeover 12 years ago, City's fortunes have been transformed from perennially living in the shadow of local rivals Manchester United to winning four Premier League titles in the past eight years among 11 major trophies.

On Saturday, they secured qualification for the Champions League for a 10th consecutive season with a 5-0 win at Brighton.

More silverware could come before the end of the season as Guardiola's side face Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-finals on Saturday before restarting their Champions League campaign in August, holding a 2-1 lead over Real Madrid from the first leg of their last 16 tie.

City's victory in court will raise fresh questions over how effectively UEFA can police FFP.

But European football's governing body said it remained committed to the system which limits clubs to not losing more than 30 million euros, with exceptions for some costs such as youth development and women's teams, over a three-year period.

(With inputs from Agencies)