Court of Arbitration for Sport: Manchester City Appeal

By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw

One of the important casualties of the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) is the hearing of the appeal by Manchester City FC (City) against the two-year ban from European Competitions imposed on City, on 14 February 2020, by UEFA, the Governing Body of European football, for serious breaches of the UEFA Financial Fair Play Rules (Rules).

City was also fined €30 million!

This appeal raises some important legal issues on the interpretation and application of these Rules and the outcome is, therefore, being closely followed in football legal circles, as the decision is likely to set a precedent for future cases.

Apart from that, City had hoped that their appeal would be heard by the Summer, so that, if successful, they could participate in the 2020/21 Champions League, assuming that they qualified for this competition.

In view of the CAS announcement of 16 March 2020 (see the text posted on this website on 18 March 2020) that hearings are disrupted due to COVID-19, it is unlikely that the City appeal will be heard in time.

CAS has already postponed three hearings and there are sixteen already scheduled until 18 May; but the City case is not one of them.

Of course, City can apply to CAS to have its case expedited, but, in the present disruptive and evolving circumstances, it would appear that such an application is unlikely to be granted.

Furthermore, in-person hearings by CAS are not being offered before, at the least, 1 May 2020, but, in the meantime, CAS is offering video-conferencing hearings or encouraging parties to have their cases decided without any hearing at all on the basis of their written submissions.

For the reasons mentioned above, the City appeal case is likely to be one in which an in-person hearing is requested by the parties.

A very difficult situation all round to resolve!

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