Manchester City’s European ban quashed on appeal

Manchester City was accused of deliberately inflating the value of income from sponsors with links to the Abu Dhabi United Group to avoid falling foul of financial fair play regulations. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 13 July 2020

Manchester City’s European ban quashed on appeal

  • Initial fine of $34 million was also reduced to $11.3 million on appeal

LAUSANNE: Manchester City will be free to play Champions League football next season after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) lifted a two-season ban from European competitions imposed by UEFA on Monday.
An initial fine of $34 million was also reduced to $11.3 million on appeal.
City were accused of deliberately inflating 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 financial fair play (FFP) regulations between 2012 and 2016.
The case against City was reopened when German magazine Der Spiegel published a series of leaked emails in 2018.
However, CAS found that “most of the alleged breaches reported by the Adjudicatory Chamber of the CFCB (UEFA Club Financial Control Body) were either not established or time-barred.”
City welcomed the decision that will have huge ramifications on the club’s finances and potentially the future of manager Pep Guardiola and star players such as Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling.
“Whilst Manchester City and its legal advisers 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,” City said in a statement.
“The club wishes to thank the panel members for their diligence and the due process that they administered.”
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.
On Saturday, they secured qualification for the Champions League for a 10th consecutive season with a 5-0 win at Brighton.
More silverware could come before the end of the season as Guardiola’s side face Arsenal in the FA Cup semifinals on Saturday before restarting their Champions League campaign in August, holding a 2-1 lead over Real Madrid from the first leg of their last 16 tie.
City’s victory in court will raise fresh questions over how effectively UEFA can police FFP.
But European football’s governing body said it remained committed to the system which limits clubs to not losing more than 30 million euros, with exceptions for some costs such as youth development and women’s teams, over a three-year period.
“UEFA notes that the CAS panel found that there was insufficient conclusive evidence to uphold all of the CFCB’s conclusions in this specific case and that many of the alleged breaches were time-barred due to the five-year time period foreseen in the UEFA regulations,” UEFA said in a statement.
“Over the last few years, Financial Fair Play has played a significant role in protecting clubs and helping them become financially sustainable and UEFA and ECA remain committed to its principles.”


Guardiola’s faith in Jesus bodes well for major clash

Updated 37 min 56 sec ago

Guardiola’s faith in Jesus bodes well for major clash

  • Brazilian player says he uses his compatriot Ronaldo as a benchmark

LONDON: The performance of Gabriel Jesus in Manchester City’s 2-1 Champions League victory over 13-time winners Real Madrid has given manager Pep Guardiola great heart as he seeks to end the club’s quest for the coveted crown.

The 23-year-old Brazilian made light of the absence of talismanic striker Sergio Aguero and followed up his impressive display in the last 16 first leg win by the same scoreline in Madrid with a match-winning contribution at the Etihad on Friday night.

Guardiola’s side face Lyon next Saturday in Lisbon in a one-off quarterfinal after the French side eliminated Juventus.

City with all their firepower might be seen as favorites but recent history suggests otherwise with Lyon having beaten them 2-1 in Manchester and then drawn 2-2 at home in last season’s Group stage.

The club’s record goalscorer Aguero — who was an unused substitute in the first leg back in February — is undergoing treatment for a knee injury in Barcelona.

Guardiola, though, feels that Jesus’s performances has given an extra pep in the team’s step after a disappointing defense of their Premier League title.

He believes with the confidence gained by Jesus in getting the better of the Spanish giants this can be a launching pad to at last triumph in a competition they have failed to shine in in the past despite the enormous investment by the Abu Dhabi owners. Their best showing is the 2016 semifinals under Guardiola’s predecessor Manuel Pellegrini.

“He’s (Jesus) the man of the match for these two games, he was decisive for us,” said Guardiola in the warm afterglow of the victory.

“He helped us when we suffered in the bad moments. He is the best guy in these situations.

“Gabriel always helps us through more than goals but for a striker it is important to score.

“Big players have to show in the biggest stages in the big games and he showed it twice against the kings of this competition.

“It was a big step forward for him to show: ‘Here I am, I can win games by myself.’”

Jesus, who has scored six Champions League goals this season, after netting four each in his previous two campaigns, says he uses his compatriot Ronaldo as a benchmark.

“His quality is different from me but I have to work to be a great striker,” Jesus told BT Sport.

The City manager is also emboldened ahead of the Lisbon trip with the assured display at the back — so often this season seen as thir Achilles heel. It is an area which Guardiola has invested in already bringing Dutch international center-back Nathan Ake to the club from relegated Bournemouth this week.

“The most important thing tonight was we didn’t make mistakes behind,” he said.

“We have suffered for that in this competition before.

“We were incredibly stable behind.”

Guardiola — who guided Barcelona twice to the Champions League trophy but failed to repeat the success with Bayern Munich — said beating Real is significant for everyone at the club but will count for little if they falter now.

“It is important,” he said.

“For Real Madrid to beat a big team in the last 16 is normal.

“For us, if we are going to be champions we have to beat these teams. “If we think that (beating Real) is enough we will show how small we are.

“We don’t have a lot of presence in Europe so it is so important for the club, for all the workers at the club and for our supporters.”

Guardiola, though, cautioned against taking Lyon lightly.

“I just spoke with the scouting department about Lyon and they told me to be alert,” said Guardiola.

“The big clubs lift the titles. Real Madrid reached the final three times in a row and this shows we can do it, but we have to see how we recover.

“Last season we played Lyon twice and we could not beat them. We have to be calm.”

The remainder of the competition will be played in Portugal with the semifinals scheduled for August 18/19 and the final on Aug. 23.