Football: Manchester City banned for beaches of the UEFA Financial Fair Play Rules

By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw

On 14 February 2020, UEFA, the Governing Body of European Football, issued the following statement in this matter:

“UEFA takes note of the decision of the independent Adjudicatory Chamber of the Club Financial Control Body (CFCB), issued today, which included the following summary of its content and effect to be announced as required by the Procedural Rules governing the CFCB:

“Following a hearing held on 22 January 2020 the Adjudicatory Chamber of the UEFA Club Financial Control Body (CFCB), chaired by José da Cunha Rodrigues, has today notified Manchester City Football Club of the final decision on the case which was referred by the CFCB Chief Investigator.

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.

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 CFCB.

The Adjudicatory Chamber has imposed disciplinary measures on Manchester City Football Club directing that it shall be excluded from participation in UEFA club competitions in the next two seasons (i.e. the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons) and pay a fine of € 30 million.

The decision of the Adjudicatory Chamber is subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). If Manchester City Football Club exercises that right the full reasoned decision of the Adjudicatory Chamber will not be published prior to publication of the final award by the CAS.”

As noted by the Adjudicatory Chamber, the club has the right to appeal this decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Therefore, UEFA will not be commenting further on this decision at this stage.”

As will be seen, Manchester City, currently English Premier League Champions, are facing a two-year ban from UEFA club competitions, especially the lucrative Champions League, and a hefty fine of €30 million for alleged “serious” breaches of the UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations, which are designed to ensure a level playing field amongst European football clubs from a financial point of view. For the background to this case, see the Post on this website of 14 November 2018 by Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw

It appears that income to the club from its owners has been disguised as sponsorship fees thus improperly and unfairly boosting their income available to spend on expensive players. They are also alleged to have failed to cooperate in the investigation by the CFCB.

The club may also face a points deduction by the English Football Association, whose Financial Fair Play Rules are similar to those of UEFA.

Financially, the ban on competing in the European Champions League represents a loss to Manchester City of some £150 million each season, which could represent between a quarter and a third of their annual income, and lucrative sponsorship deals, as well as a loss of reputation and status in English and European football.

The club will be appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against this ruling, which they have described as “prejudicial” and handed down by a “kangaroo court”, so it will be very interesting to see how they get on in their appeal!

Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘ian.blackshaw@orange.fr’