LONDON (AFP) – Manchester City showed a “blatant disregard” for UEFA’s investigation into alleged Financial Fair Play (FFP) breaches, according to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), but European football’s governing body failed to prove City had disguised funding from the club’s owners as sponsorship income.
Earlier this month, CAS overturned a two-year ban from European competitions imposed on City by UEFA and reduced a fine of EUR30 million (GBP27 million, USD35 million) to EUR10 million.
The full reasoned judgement by CAS released on Tuesday showed that the fine was to reflect “a severe breach” in City’s unwillingness to cooperate with UEFA’s investigation.
But that the charges of alleged concealment of equity funding were more significant violations and that “based on the evidence the panel cannot reach the conclusion that disguised funding was paid to City”.
City’s fortunes on the field have been transformed since a takeover from Shiekh Mansour, a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family, in 2008.
The club were accused of deliberately inflating the value of income from Emirati sponsors Etisalat and Etihad Airways to meet UEFA’s FFP regulations, which limits the losses clubs can make to spend on player transfer fees and wages.
UEFA launched an investigation after German magazine Der Spiegel published a series of leaked emails relating to City’s finances in 2018.
CAS indicated that witness statements from senior City executives as well as a letter from Sheikh Mansour – all provided to CAS but not to UEFA during the first process – could have swung the original verdict in City’s favour.
“The appealed decision is therefore not per se wrong but, at least to a certain extent, is a consequence of MCFC’s decision to produce the most relevant evidence at its disposal only in the present appeal proceedings before CAS,” said the court.