Image Credit: UEFA.com
Manchester City this week were banned from all UEFA competitions and fined £25million for a range of charges levelled at them by European football’s top governing body.
Uefa found Manchester City to both be in breach of Financial Fair Play regulation as well as misleading them over payments made to the club.
Uefa’s statement read: ‘The Adjudicatory Chamber has found that Manchester City committed serious breaches of the Uefa Fair Play Regulations by overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to Uefa between 2012 and 2016.’
Uefa’s Adjudicatory Chamber found that in addition to these charges, the lack of cooperation from Manchester City during the investigation did not help them in the overall outcome of the ruling, and as such Uefa have levelled what most experts perceive to be the most severe punishment a football club can receive.
The ban is in part for the irregularities in City’s finances and basically where they told Uefa they came from. This most notably concerns the majority owner, Sheik Mansour of the UAE, and Etihad Airways, also of the UAE.
The airline sponsors Manchester City’s ground, shirts and academy, pumping in a supposed £67.5 million a year.
What Uefa claim to have found, however, is that this money was not coming from the airline, but instead straight out of Mansour’s pocket. People may ask why this is such a big issue, perhaps rightly, as he owns the football club.
However, this is where the deceit factor that Uefa have talked of so strongly comes in. While City claim to have irrefutable evidence to suggest otherwise, Uefa claim that City have consistently lied about these particular finances, and that is why the punishment is so severe. City’s deceit is what has not sat with the European football’s governing body.
It is a watershed moment for football. With some of the most talented and recognisable players in the world, as well as the most recognisable manager in the world, this is an enormous move by Uefa, to ban one of their biggest clubs, essentially.
Manchester City fans might accuse the European governing body of cutting off their nose to spite their face, as it were, but their findings seemingly have serious grounding.
Der Spiegel, the investigative German sports newspaper, who last year leaked the ‘Football Leaks’ documents, claim to have emails from City’s top club officials that have incriminated the club. Some of these emails it is said are highly critical, almost to a point of mocking, of Uefa and as such this ban has been slapped down.
In what has become typical City style, they have responded in extremely strong fashion. The statement they put out almost immediately after Uefa announced the news on Valentine’s Day accused Uefa of essentially having this verdict arranged before the investigation even began.
Pep Guardiola has consistently told journalists that the owners have assured him that everything is under control and above board, but, crucially, Uefa have found otherwise. City are of course going to take this to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, where it is likely that this will get overturned, or at the very least, reduced by a year. Expect this one to rumble on for quite some time.