Manchester City have successfully lifted their two-year ban from European club competition.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has announced that the club has cleared the “disguise of the equity fund as a sponsor’s contribution”.
UEFA banned the ruling in February after committing “grave violations” of the Financial Fair Play Rules between 2012 and 2011.
City fines have been slashed from 30 million euros (.9 26.9 million) to 10 million euros.
Cass said in a statement on Monday that City had “failed to co-operate with UEFA authorities” but that the UEFA Club’s Financial Regulatory Authority (CFCB) had reversed its decision to ban them.
Citi said the decision was “based on the legitimacy of the club’s position and the evidence it was able to prove”.
“The club wants to thank the panel members for their perseverance and proper process management,” Citi added.
Cass’s ruling means City, who are guaranteed second place in the Premier League this season, will play in the 2020-21 Champions League.
In this year’s competition, Pep Guardiola’s side face Real Madrid in their last-16 second leg at the Real E August Etihad Stadium. They lead 2-1 from the first leg and will face Juventus or Lyon if they advance.
Cass’s statement continued: “The award emphasized that most of the alleged violations reported by the CFCB’s Judicial Chamber were either not established or were not time-bound.
“Since the allegations about any dishonest confidentiality of equity funds were clearly a significant violation rather than a hindrance to the CFCB’s investigation, the ban on UEFA’s participation in the competition was not appropriate for Manchester City’s failure to co-operate in the CFCB’s investigation.”
Concerning the reduction of fines, Cass said it was “appropriate for clubs to co-operate in investigations conducted by the CFCB” and Manchester City’s “disregard for such policy and obstruction of the investigation”.
It added: “The final award with reasons will be published on the Cass website in a few days.”
UEFA said it noted that “there is insufficient conclusive evidence to support all of the CFCB’s decisions in this particular case and that many of the alleged violations were prohibited at the time.”
The Steering Committee added: “Over the past few years Financial Fair has played an important role in protecting play clubs and helping them become financially sustainable, and to remain committed to the policies of UEFA and the European Clubs Association.”
What were the allegations against City?
UEFA launched an investigation after the German newspaper Der Spiegel published the leaked documents in November 2018, alleging that the city had inflated the value of the sponsorship deal by misleading European football’s governing body.
Citi alleges that Citi – who has always denied wrongdoing – has deliberately misled YEFA so that it can comply with FFP rules that require clubs to break up as well.
On 14 February, the CFCB’s Independent Judicial Chamber stated that Citi had violated the rules by “increasing its sponsorship earnings and disciplining UEFA between 2012 and 201 its”.
It added that Citi “failed to cooperate in the investigation.”
The city, which has been owned by Sheikh Mansoor since 2008, was fined 49 49 million in 2014 for violating the rules.
What was the case with City?
The city failed in the initial bid to close the Cass Uefa investigation in November last year.
After announcing the two-year ban, the City said the process by which it was conducted was “flawed” and “superstitious” and announced its intention to appeal immediately.
They allege that they were illegally hacked by individuals with intent to damage their reputation and that emails that are being taken out of relevance are being used as the basis for reports.
Citi further believes that the CFCB is not independent and has become distrustful of it, partly because of the amount of confidential information the club has leaked to the media.
UEFA could appeal the decision to a Swiss federal court.
The national appeal is unlikely to be heard before the 2020-21 Champions League starts.
If the Premier League’s ban was upheld, their FFP rules could be the same – but not exactly the same as UEFA’s -.
Dan Rowan, BBC Sports Editor
For the past decade, City has been an influential force in the English game, but very few results have been as important as this.
The club’s money, the chances of keeping their best players and, above all, an external two-year ban for their reputation would have been disastrous.
Instead, Citi can sigh in relief, and uncertainty surrounds UEFA and its financial rules instead.
The reliability of shutting down from the FFP lies in the tatters. After all, having been convicted of obstructing a UFA investigation, the club that was found to have violated the rules in 2014, how could the FFP survive among the world’s ten richest clubs, leaving with a fine of just tens of millions of euros?
Many will wonder what kind of barriers set for other clubs, especially clubs with such financial resources. It shows how difficult it has been for the steering committee to enforce the rules.
The language that Cass uses is important. UEFA noted that Cass had received “insufficient conclusive evidence” to support all his decisions, with “no evidence”.
But City are unlikely to care too much about this and what would be the story if City could follow it with their first success in the Champions League.