Manchester City have been banned from European competition for the next two seasons and fined $30m by UEFA over “serious breaches” of Financial Fair Play and club licensing regulations.
Following an investigation, the Adjudicatory Chamber of UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) found the Premier League champions guilty of ‘overstating its sponsorship revenue‘ between 2012 and 2016, adding that the club had ‘failed to cooperate in the investigation‘.
The Independent has also reported that Premier League committees have already discussed potential disciplinary action on the provision that UEFA punish City, and a points deduction is now seen as highly likely.
UEFA launched the investigation following a series of allegations published by German newspaper Der Spiegel in November 2018, which drew on leaked documents obtained by whistleblowers Football Leaks. The documents appeared to show the club had artificially inflated the value of sponsorship deals with owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan allegedly funding the majority of the club’s £67.5m annual sponsorship through his own company, the Abu Dhabi United Group.
Denying any wrongdoing, Manchester City responded with a statement on their website, saying UEFA made the decision before the investigation had even started. The club say they are ‘disappointed but not surprised‘ by the verdict, describing the process as ‘prejudicial’ and will appeal against the ruling at the Court of Arbitration for Sport ‘at the earliest opportunity‘.
The Manchester club were previously charged by UEFA in 2014 for breaching Financial Fair Play rules and agreed to pay a £49 million fine and to restrictions on incoming transfers to its first-team squad in European competition.
A ban from the lucrative Champions League would severely hit the club’s finances, although City’s owner received fresh funding in November after agreeing to sell a $500 million stake in the club to US private equity group Silver Lake. The deal broke a record in sport valuations.
FFP, introduced by UEFA in 2011, is designed to prevent clubs from spending beyond their means and stamp out ‘financial doping‘ within football. Under the rules, financial losses are limited, and clubs are obliged to meet all their transfer and employee payment commitments on time. By inflating sponsorship revenues, clubs can increase the amount they are able to spend under the regulations and this explains the serious allegation that City has deceived UEFA’s CFCB.
The Premier League did not issue a statement on Friday, but La Liga President Javier Tebas has tweeted his support of the European ban and fine. He said the decision was ‘essential‘ in safeguarding the future of the game and praised UEFA for finally taking ‘decisive action‘.
City are due to face Real Madrid in the last 16 of this season’s Champions League, with the first leg being played at the Bernabeu on 26 February.