Manchester City overturns two-year ban from Champions League

GENEVA (AP) — Manchester City successfully overturned its two-year ban from the Champions League yesterday in a surprising legal victory.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld City’s appeal against the UEFA ban, but imposed a EUR10 million (USD11.3 million) fine on the club for failing to cooperate with independent investigators.

Some UEFA allegations accusing City of breaking finance rules dating back several years were “time-barred,” the court said.

CAS plans to publish a detailed written verdict within days. The decision by the three judges clears the team coached by Pep Guardiola to play in the group stage of the Champions League next season. The case does not affect City’s place in this season’s competition, which resumes next month.

City’s win guarantees tens of millions of dollars in UEFA prize money next season. It also protects against players leaving to seek Champions League action with another club.

File photo shows Manchester City players celebrating a goal. Manchester City successfully overturned a ban in a surprising legal victory. PHOTO: AP

Guardiola had pledged to stay in Manchester “no matter what happens” in the courts.

“The club welcomes the implications of today’s ruling as a validation of the club’s position and the body of evidence that it was able to present,” City said in a statement.

UEFA punished Man City in February for “serious breaches” of finance monitoring rules and failing to cooperate with investigators.

The allegations included that City, owned by Abu Dhabi’s royal family, misled UEFA over several years to meet financial integrity rules — known as Financial Fair Play — required to enter European club competitions.

City denied wrongdoing, and said it had “irrefutable evidence” the claims were not true.

“The CAS award emphasised that most of the alleged breaches reported by the Adjudicatory Chamber of the (UEFA club finance panel) were either not established or time-barred,” the court said.

City’s win will raise doubts about the future of the UEFAs Financial Fair Play programme, created in 2009.

Man City joins Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and AC Milan in defeating UEFA at CAS in the past two years.