The coronavirus pandemic is having severe ramifications on all spheres of human existence. But the sports world and football in particular has been hit hard. Several leagues around the globe have been suspended while entire tournaments like the Euros and Copa America have been postponed until 2021. Manchester City’s appeal against the club’s two-year ban from the Champions League is also set to suffer a setback as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
City had hoped for an early resolution of the appeal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) so the issue will not affect preparations for next season. The two-year ban on the club will see us miss the competition starting from the next edition if the decision is not overturned. Or there’s no stay in execution of the verdict reached by the Adjudicatory Chamber of UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body.
But CAS has announced it will not host any in-person hearings until May at the earliest.
The Swiss-based court had already postponed three hearings and has 16 cases already scheduled until May 18. Unfortunately, City’s case is not even listed for hearing yet. Speaking as a result of the difficulties created by the spread of coronavirus, the body said in a statement on Tuesday:
”CAS will not host any in-person hearing before 1 May 2020, at the earliest.
”Depending on the circumstances of each individual case, the arbitrators and parties are encouraged to conduct hearings by video-conference or to cancel them (final award on the basis of the written submissions). If such measures are not possible or appropriate, the hearings must be postponed until May 2020 or later.
”Depending on the evolution of the Covid-19 outbreak, the prohibition of in-person hearings may be extended.”
This could complicate things for City as the lack of action by the court on the matter could result in the club being excluded from next season’s Champions League. That’s especially the case given the statement from the court that the hearings may be extended depending on how the pandemic evolves.
This may pose a huge challenge to City as CEO Ferran Soriano who maintains that “the allegations are not true” expressed his desire for a quick resolution of the case last month.
”We are looking for an early resolution obviously through a thorough process and a fair process so my best hope is that this will be finished before the beginning of the summer,” he said.
That has now become difficult owing to prevailing circumstances. But we’ll all have to wait and see how the situation unfolds.