Things have gone quiet in the Manchester City financial fair play (FFP) investigation. Following UEFA’s appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in June, no news has been reported on the case.
When the investigation began, it was initially believed the Mancunian club could face a one year ban from the UEFA Champions League. Given recent developments, however, it is unclear how the investigation will proceed as the qualification process for the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League is already underway. The first round began at the start of July, and several European clubs just completed the second qualification round.
For comparison purposes, AC Milan’s ban from UEFA Europa League contention was announced two weeks before the start of the Europa League qualification process, thus allowing UEFA amble time to rearrange the qualifying fixtures.
A late verdict for Manchester City, however, would cause headaches for UEFA and the English FA, not to mention the possibility of having to reschedule various English Premier League matches.
With uncertainty surrounding the case, there could be some good news for Manchester City. On 24 July the New York Times published a piece revealing the details about UEFA’s investigation into Paris Saint-Germain’s potential breach of FFP. According to these documents, PSG argued their sponsorship deals had helped finance their bids for some of world football’s most talented players. After the case was presented to the CAS, the courts ruled in favour of PSG’s interpretation of the rules and the Frenchmen avoided a ban from the UEFA Champions League.
It is believed Manchester City may use a similar argument with help from the City Football Group. Since its formation in May 2013, the City Football Group is the “owner of football-related businesses in major cities around the world” which seeks to “find and develop the best footballing talent” around the world. There are currently 24 men’s, women’s and youth teams affiliated with the organization.
Based on this information, one could hypothesize the clubs work together to finance bids for certain players. Moreover, with City’s sponsorship deals with Etihad Airways and Puma, the club is generating a large sum of money which would allow them to spend during various transfer windows. (City are being scrutinized for spending over €300 million during the 2017 Summer Transfer Window.)
PSG are not the only club to test this theory. During this period, Galatasaray were also under investigation. Like their European counterparts, the Turks filed a similar appeal to the CAS arguing their sponsors had helped them with their transfer deals. In this scenario, the courts ruled in favour of the Turkish club and they, too, avoided a European ban.
Overall, the matter is very complicated as much uncertainty remains. History has shown, however, that PSG and Galatasaray successfully avoided being banned from European football’s most prestigious club competition by using their sponsors as a support mechanism for their transfer spending sprees.
Therefore, will Manchester City see a similar verdict in their current FFP investigation?