Monday’s soccer news starts with the same thing most of soccer is talking about, UEFA banning Manchester City from European competition for two seasons over Financial Fair Play. For a team like Manchester City, that means no Champions League and no point for the vast amount of money the club spends. That’s what has them in trouble, how they accounted for incoming revenue to stay on the right side of UEFA’s regulations.
“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,” read UEFA’s statement. “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 (ie. the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons) and pay a fine of €30 million.
UEFA started the next paragraph noting that Manchester City can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Surprising nobody, that’s what the club plans to do. “Simply put, this is a case initiated by UEFA, prosecuted by UEFA and judged by UEFA,” Manchester City’s statement read. With this prejudicial process now over, the Club will pursue an impartial judgment as quickly as possible and will therefore, in the first instance, commence proceedings with the Court of Arbitration for Sport at the earliest opportunity.”
Regardless of what CAS decides, Manchester City is drawing a clear distinction with whatever they may or may not have done and how UEFA conducts Financial Fair Play investigations. It’s an interesting position to take, and one that will have broader ramifications. It’s also a compelling situation for UEFA, passing judgment on what is without question one of the biggest clubs in Europe. All of this is happening at a time when the future of the Champions League and UEFA’s relationship with Europe’s super clubs is an ongoing discussion.
Wherever that ends up, UEFA’s position as the regulations maker as well as regulations enforcer is key. They’re the governing body for European soccer, something that, by default, supersedes their role as the promoter of the most lucrative club competition in the world. Still, it’s difficult to separate one from the other. The authority figure is more valuable in sporting terms than their work as promotor. Running a club soccer competition can happen without UEFA acting as the authority for European soccer, something that soccer’s bureaucracy has to recognize at every level.
For UEFA, this is a statement moment for what they will and won’t tolerate. It follows transfer bans for major clubs along with the occasional competitive ban involving a well-known team. AC Milan didn’t play in the Europa League this season over a Financial Fair Play violation rather than risk an appeals process that could’ve cost them the Champions League next season.
It’s not much of a surprise that now chronology is in play with Manchester City. Few expect City’s superstars or their equally prestigious manager to hang around if the club is no longer eligible for European competition. No Champions League or Europa League or even the Europa Conference League means spending two seasons out of the limelight and the cash that comes with it. There’s only so much the Premier League can do to make up for that absence.
Right now, City’s situation carries with it a sizeable “if.” Should their appeal to CAS prove successful, at most, they may have cost themselves some time. If it doesn’t, it means Manchester City recrafting who they are as an organization while they spend two seasons on the outside looking in at the Champions League.
The Independent’s Miguel Delaney hears a broader message from UEFA while pointing to what Manchester City will potentially miss. The NY Times’ Rory Smith explains what City has at stake. The Athletic’s Sam Lee and Matt Slater work through the timeline for UEFA’s sanctions. SI.com’s Jonathan Wilson considers City’s appeal of UEFA’s ban. The Guardian’s David Conn looks at the evidence against City. AP’s Rob Harris reports on what could happen to City.
iNews’ Glenn Moore on Brexit and English clubs signing foreign players. Football 365’s Tom Reed makes a case for the Football League completely separating from the Premier League. Inside World Football’s David Owen considers the future of the FA Cup.
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Logo courtesy of Manchester City