One of the biggest stories of the season so far has seemingly come to an end with Manchester City avoiding a two year ban from the Champions League, after the Court of Arbitration for Sport cleared them of any wrongdoing.
This has been a long debated topic of whether 5th place would qualify as a Champions League spot, with many people calling for a harsh punishment in order for UEFA to ‘make an example’ of City. They have been criticised for not being strict enough with FFP and this result has left its reputation heavily damaged.
What were City accused of doing?
In November 2018 a German newspaper, Der Speigel, published supposed leaked documents of Manchester City overvaluing their sponsorship deal – misleading football’s top European body.
It was accused that they lied about this valuation in order to mislead UEFA for FFP rules – making it seem as though they were breaking even and not in a loss.
In February, the CFCB, an independent adjudicatory body, claimed that City bent the laws by “overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to Uefa between 2012 and 2016”.
They attempted to investigate but City refused to cooperate as they didn’t trust the CFCB and didn’t believe they were independent. The club were also punished for similar issues in 2014 and fined £49m.
It must be noted the owners always refuted the claims and were adamant they had not broken any rules.
What was the verdict?
The CAS claimed that the club were completely cleared of “disguising equity funds as sponsorship contributions”.
They did, however, state that Manchester City had failed to cooperate with the CFCB investigation and were still subject to a fine.
The original fine of 30m Euros was reduced to 10m Euros – a considerable drop. The two-year Champions League ban imposed on City has also been reversed meaning they will be allowed to play in the competition for future seasons.
What does this mean for FFP and this season?
Many fans have complained about the loopholes in FFP rulings as it allows bigger clubs who generate more revenue to spend more – whilst other clubs may struggle to grow due to financial restrictions on allowed losses.
Whilst the Premier League have different rulings to UEFA they still fall under the same umbrella terms, so the differences are minimal.
With its fractured reputation already, this decision has only exacerbated things for UEFA as people are calling into questions its legitimacy. After all, City broke similar regulations in 2014 and yet they haven’t been banned and have been given a reduced fine.
The failure to punish the richest clubs for breaking the rules means clubs will seemingly be able to get away with spending a bit more. If the fine is only 10m Euros like this case, then you can be sure many clubs would take that hit for success.
Where this leaves the ruling is yet to be seen, a reform in the system seems to be the most effective option, allowing smaller clubs to spend to help grow, whilst debt can be controlled to avoid clubs going into administration.
In terms of this season, it of course means that 5th place is no longer the golden ticket into the Champions League and the race for the top four will be even more intense now.
Whilst most people expected the decision to be overturned, it still offers up a very interesting end to the campaign as top four is absolutely vital. Whilst this damages Wolves and Sheffield United’s hopes of qualification; Manchester United, Chelsea and Leicester will all be fighting more than ever now in these last few games.
For further discussion on what Manchester City’s European ban being overturned means check out the video below: