Manchester City vs UEFA - What will happen?
With the CAS hearing verdict due to be announced on 13 July, Football world's eyes are locked on to this epic clash. What can be the possible outcomes, and how it can affect the parties involved? Let's take a look!
Written By "S"
Edited by Ankit Khanna
On February 14, 2020, an independent financial control body of UEFA deemed Manchester City guilty of multiple violations related to Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, that led them to slapping Ciy with a ban of 2 years from all European Competitions conducted by UEFA.
The Blues were also criticized for failing to cooperate with UEFA’s investigators while being handed a fine of 30 million euros on top of the ban. The news came as a shock to Manchester City fans, however, such an action by UEFA was somewhat predictable, and it was reiterated by Ferran Soriano when he publicly announced the club's stance on the issue and declared that City will re-appeal at the Court of Arbitration of Sports (CAS).
What are the accusations?
Manchester City were found guilty of two charges:
First, of falsely inflating sponsorship revenues in their submissions as part of the FFP process.
Second, of breaching regulations by failure in cooperation in the investigation during the entire case conducted by the Club Financial Control Body (CFCB). In a nutshell, Man City have been accused of unbalancing the financial book in their favour which is a strict no as per UEFA’s FFP regulations.
UEFA, when they released the statement on February 14, mentioned that their Adjudicatory Chamber noted that Man City have every right to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Hence, the apex European body didn’t comment further on the matter. However, with the two-season ban and a fine of 30 million euros, UEFA’s stance is very clear that the board is strictly against Manchester City's conduct and consider them guilty of playing with the rules.
"Well the most important thing I have to say today is that the allegations are not true. They are simply not true. The owner has not put money in this club that has not been properly declared. We are a sustainable football club, we are profitable, we don't have debt, our accounts have been scrutinized many times, by auditors, by regulators, by investors and this is perfectly clear." – Man City Chief Executive Ferran Soriano said in his very first response to UEFA’s ban in the month of February.
And on numerous occasions, Man City have also pleaded innocence in the case claiming the hacked-emails were taken “out of context” and the initial verdict by UEFA was “less about justice and more about politics." On failure to cooperate in the investigation, Soriano said they had provided a long list of documents to clear every doubt in mind. The statement from the club was buzzing with confidence and had a hint of swipe towards UEFA with this not being the first altercation between the two parties over FFP as one would remember.
In 2014, UEFA fined City a whopping 49 million pounds of which 32 million was suspended. The fine came for breaching FFP rules while another major blow was handed to the Blues as their squad limit for UEFA competitions was slashed to 21, from 25, for the 2014-15 season. Der Speigel, in November, published emails obtained by the Football Leaks website which showed that Etihad had accounted for only 8 million pounds of a deal amounting to 67.5 million pounds in 2013 in relation to a sponsorship deal while alleging that the remaining amount was paid by the Abu Dhabi United Group, the company which owns City.
There are three possible outcomes from the verdicts:
1) City win the case - With so many other clubs also interlinked somehow with the case, everyone will be keeping a close eye on the verdict on Monday morning. If City win the case, it will come as a huge sigh of relief for the club and fans . The Blues will thus be allowed to participate in the next season of Champions League without any problem. Also, it will send a message that the Club has never been involved in any wrongdoings, and all the claims laid against the Club were false, probably motivated by jealousy and fear. The club will come out with a clear name, and that will have a positive impact on the club's investors and stakeholders. Tongue in cheek but the club will surely come out bigger and better, and the result might lead to great results both on and off the pitch. But the biggest impact City's win will have will be on UEFA. as their governance, policies and decision-making will come under scrutiny. Handing out such a big decision and for that to be overturned by a court will shake the UEFA bosses. The member clubs of UEFA will draw a lot of courage as well, and we might end up seeing improvements in the maligned and controversial FFP rules.
2) City loses the case - If City loses the case, then it will be a potential nightmare for the club. Top players would be itchy if Man City are banned from participating in the next two seasons of UEFA Champions League. For the Premier League team finishing fifth, there would be a clear path open for Europe’s top competition. And the team finishing just below the Europa League spot could also fulfill their wish of qualifying for European competition. The Club's bosses will face some tough meetings with the investors and stakeholders, while the performances on the pitch might take a hit too. Although this will be a terrible outcome for everyone involved at the club, but the one good that may come out of it will be that the young players from EDS might get more opportunities, and may be able to showcase their potential to the world. On UEFA's part, they will be able to send a statement that their investigation was fair and the punishment served was ideal.
3) City’s punishment is reduced - The third possible verdict CAS may deliver is that the punishment gets reduced. It can either be that the ban is reduced from two seasons to one, or the club may only be fined some amount while the ban gets lifted. This will have both positive and negative impacts on the club. Positive in the sense that the punishment could have been much severe and the impact much worse. So getting less punishment than originally handed by UEFA is, as the cliche goes, something better than nothing. However looking from a broader perspective, it will still be a huge blow for the club in their pursuit of Champions League trophy. Some, if not many players will still look to move elsewhere, but mainly the club's stance that they have done nothing wrong will take a hit. The Club's name will still get tainted and UEFA would still be seen as the winners.
As the result has neared, certain reports have started coming out that the club might be completely exonerated. These have made the fans more hopeful of a positive verdict in their favour. But whatever happens, the impact will be felt across European Football. A City win however will certainly ring some loud bells in the ears of the so-called elites of the World Football that Manchester City FC is here to stay, and no cheap antics from any Club or Organization can undo the outstanding work or taint the accomplishments of the club in the past decade. It will provide an assurance to the investors and stakeholders of the club, and might even trigger more investments and legitimate growth in the coming years. Our fingers are crossed, and we are nervously waiting for 9:30 AM UK Time (2 PM IST) to know the club's, and in hindsight all our fates. What do you think will happen? Share your thoughts in the comments below!