The Court of Arbitration for Sport has overturned Manchester City’s two-year ban from European competitions imposed by Uefa in a verdict delivered on Monday providing a huge boost for the Premier League side.
The Sky Blues’ fine is now reduced to €10 million. In February, Uefa imposed a fine of €30 million ($32 million, £25 million) on City as well as suspending them from European competitions for the next two seasons over allegations they deliberately inflated 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 FFP regulations between 2012 and 2016.
City’s statement read: “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. The Club wishes to thank the panel members for their diligence and the due process that they administered.”
Manchester City who have denied any wrongdoing will now be able to compete in next season’s Uefa Champions League having mathematically sealed qualification for the same win a 5-0 rout of Brighton on Saturday.
“Today we achieved qualification for the Champions League mathematically. We deserve to be there because we won it on the pitch,” coach Pep Guardiola had said on Saturday.
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.
Yet the prize that has eluded them is the one the Abu Dhabi project most desires – the Champions League.
Guardiola to stay?
The verdict that is sure to boost City’s squad will have the chance to win the Champions League this season itself in August as they resume their Champions League campaign with a 2-1 lead over Real Madrid from the first leg of their last 16 tie.
The verdict also comes as a huge boost to City’s hopes of securing manager Guardiola’s long-term future at the club. Guardiola’s contract runs until the end of the 2020-’21 season.
Star players such as Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling are also now likely to commit to the club having previously expressed their concern over City’s European ban. “Two years would be long. One year is something I might be able to cope with,” De Bruyne told Het Laatste Nieuws in June.
Financially too City would profit from Champions League football at the Etihad next season having made €93 million from Uefa prize money and TV rights from last season’s Champions League, with gate receipts and extra sponsorship revenue from Europe’s premier club competition added to that tally. This revenue would help the Manchester club to comply with the FFP rules.
No joy for fifth-placed team
With City’s ban overturned, the fifth-placed team in the Premier League will not qualify for the Champions League and will have to make do with a place in the Europa League. It will also impact teams chasing Europa League as the spots for the competition will be open for teams in fifth and sixth place in the table respectively with the fate of the seventh position hinging on the results in the FA Cup.
Arsenal who are ninth in the table could still qualify for Europa League if they win the FA Cup. It will be a tough task considering they will face Manchester City in the semi-final on Saturday
(With inputs from AFP)
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