Europe’s football governing body, Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) suspends six-time Premier League champion Manchester City in competing in UEFA sanctioned tournaments due to infractions in financial play rules.
In the decision released last February 15th, UEFA excluded Manchester City from competing in UEFA sanctioned tournaments for the next two seasons, and fined the English club 30 million Euros or 33 million US Dollars in relation to the infraction.
“The Adjudicatory Chamber, having considered all the evidence, has found that Manchester City Football Club committed serious breaches of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations by overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016,’’ said UEFA in the statement, quoted in the report of ESPN.
“The Adjudicatory Chamber has also found that in breach of the regulations the Club failed to cooperate in the investigation of this case by the [chamber’s Club Financial Control Body],’’ UEFA also added in their statement.
Manchester City, who are in the middle of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 series against Real Madrid, is disappointed in the decision but not surprised by the decision of UEFA.
“Manchester City is disappointed but not surprised by today’s announcement by the UEFA Adjudicatory Chamber. The club has always anticipated the ultimate need to seek out an independent body and process to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence in support of its position,’’ the club said in the statement, quoted in the same ESPN report.
“In December 2018, the UEFA Chief Investigator publicly previewed the outcome and sanction he intended to be delivered to Manchester City before any investigation had even begun. The subsequent flawed and consistently leaked UEFA process he oversaw has meant that there was little doubt in the result that he would deliver,’’ the club added in the statement.
Manchester City already elevated their plea against the decision of UEFA about the ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), with the papers already filed last February 26th.
The UEFA ban against Manchester City is a huge blow for Manchester City’s mission to become a powerhouse club in Europe.
Since the City Football Group, owned by Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the deputy prime minister of United Arab Emirates (UAE), acquired the club in 2008, Manchester City won different championships including the Premier League, which they won four times since 2012.
The City Football Group also owned or part of the ownership group of seven other football clubs around the world including the New York City FC, playing for Major League Soccer and Melbourne City FC, currently competing for Australia’s A-League.
This will be the second time in many years UEFA, once again finding themselves in CAS after handing down rulings about financial play rules violation. AC Milan appealed their two-year ban on breaching financial play rules in 2018 on CAS, with the international sports arbitration court ruled that AC Milan violated the financial play rules but canceled the two-year ban and returned the case to UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body for reconsideration of the two-year ban.
UEFA and AC Milan later agreed that the latter will serve a season-long, which was the club is currently serving this season.
Despite the impending UEFA ban, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said he is committed to staying.
“If they don’t sack me, I will stay here 100% more than ever,” Guardiola said via The Associated Press. “First because I want to stay. It’s something special, more than the contract I have. I said before, I say now I want to stay and help the club and maintain this level as long as possible.”
“Why should I leave?” Guardiola added in the same Associated Press report. “When I said I love this club, I like to be here, why should I leave? No matter what happens, I will be here next season.”
Guardiola, who came to Manchester City in 2016 and won two Premier League titles with the club also proclaimed his players are also committed to staying despite the impending UEFA ban.
“I’m completely sure of the commitment of our players,” Guardiola said via ESPN.
“It’s about what they’ve shown for many years, nothing changes, at the end of the season nobody knows what is going to happen. With calm, we decide what we want, but for the next three months the committee will be incredible,” the Spanish mentor added.