Manchester City are set to avoid a season long Champions League ban, according to reports this evening.
It was widely expected that the blues would be banned from Europe’s ‘top’ competition for another breach of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules, however a report in The Athletic, which has now been circulated amongst newspapers in Britain, claims UEFA will only fine the club instead.
UEFA formally opened another investigation after German magazine Der Spiegel claimed millions of pounds of sponsorship had in fact come from the blues Abu Dhabi owners. Football Leaks also obtained a series of hacked emails backing up the claims, which prompted UEFA’s action.
The City board has always refuted the claims that they had done nothing wrong and said in March that they ‘welcomed the opening of a formal UEFA investigation as an opportunity to bring to an end the speculation resulting from the illegal hacking and out of context publication of City emails. The accusation of financial irregularities are entirely false. The club’s published accounts are full and complete and a matter of legal and regulatory record.’
In May, the case was referred to CFCB’s adjudicatory chamber as a ban looked like the most likely outcome, particularly since the CFBC chairman Yves Leterme, threatening the club with the ‘heaviest punishment’ possible - in other words, exclusion from UEFA competitions.
It is also believed that UEFA feel that taking on City in such an aggressive style will result in years of arguing and wrangling, something which Europe’s governing body seem reluctant to do.
If the reports are correct, it is likely that other clubs, mainly Europe’s elite, will push UEFA for more severe punishments than just fines, and may also lead to calls for FFP to scrapped in its entirety, with the governing body unable to fully police the rules they have created. That may be an argument for the future, but right now, it looks like City have won this particular battle.