MANCHESTER CITY could still play in next season’s Champions League despite having been slapped with a two-season ban by Uefa.
The Abu Dhabi-owned club were found guilty of “cynical” attempts to deceive Uefa financial chiefs – by hiding millions in funding under the guise of legitimate sponsorship income.
As well as a ban, Pep Guardiola’s side were handed a £25million fine – but the Sky Blues haven’t taken the punishment lying down.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport [CAS] yesterday confirmed that City have appealed their suspension for “serious breaches” – with chief executive Ferran Soriano dismissing the accusations as “simply not true”.
With no indication of when the case will be heard, City could find themselves competing in next season’s competition after all – should they apply for a stay of the ban.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, managing editor of the International Sports Law Journal, Christopher Flanagan, revealed: “As a part of the CAS process, City have the option to apply for ‘Provisional and Conservatory Measures’ such as a stay of the ban pending a full hearing.
“We don’t yet know if City have chosen to exercise that right. If they do, UEFA will have a right of reply, and it would then be up to the arbitrator[s] to decide whether those provisional measures are granted.
“In making that decision, the arbitrator[s] will consider aspects such as whether irreparable harm would be done to City, the likelihood of City’s case being successful overall, and the competing interests of City and Uefa.”
For this season’s competition, admissions had to have been received by June 3, eight days before the first qualifying round draw on June 11.
So for the next edition, if City’s case is still unresolved come June 1, they would in fact be admitted to the competition – with their ban instead coming in the subsequent two seasons, if upheld.
There has been much excitement from neutral fans that, as a result of City’s ban, fifth-place this term could now herald a Champions League place.
This would put the likes of Sheffield United and Wolverhampton Wanderers right into the mix to qualify – but either could face an anxious wait post-season as they follow City’s situation.
There is precedent of CAS moving quickly in a similar case, with AC Milan’s two-year ban back in 2018 being fast-tracked and seen prior to the end of the season.
On that occasion they opted to annul the Serie A side’s suspension – before Milan themselves and Uefa agreed on a one-year ban – thus missing out on the Europa League spot they had qualified for.
The period that City were found to have broken Uefa’s Financial Fair Play regulations was the spell between 2012 and 2016 in which they lifted two Premier League titles.