Manchester City’s two-year ban from Champions League football has been overturned on Monday by the Court Of Arbitration (CAS).
City had vowed to contest the ban and fine of €30m given to them in February after the club were told they were in serious breach of financial fair play regulations, with City’s Abu Dhabi owners accused of disguising their own, private investment as sponsorship deals.
They have been found not guilty, but for their inability in assisting the initial financial fair play investigation, for which they have now been fined €10m.
CAS came to the conclusion that “most of the alleged breaches were either not established or time-barred.”.
It is a major victory for Man City in avoiding and as well as the financial implications of not playing in the Champions League being damaging for a club of their size, they will also have averted a potential exodus of key playing staff.
Kevin De Bruyne, in particular, was vocal about his intention to review his future with the club should they be denied access to play in Europe’s elite club competition.
The initial investigation commenced after allegations in several articles by German magazine Der Spiegel, who allegedly gained access to leaked emails from within the club.
Those emails suggested that just £8m of sponsorship came from the club’s major sponsor, Etihad Airlines, out of the £67.5m worth of sponsorship the club received, with the rest coming personally from the Abu Dhabi United Group - owner Sheikh Mansour’s private company.
Financial fair play rules were introduced so that clubs had to spend within their means from money earned, rather than from private investment. The aim was to curb "unfair" spending on exorbitant transfer fees and player wages.
Man City are still involved in this season’s Champions League competition, with a second-leg fixture against Real Madrid on the horizon. Should they defeat Los Blancos, they’ll face the winner of the clash between Juventus and Lyon.