Manchester City have registered their appeal to the court of arbitration for sport (Cas) against the ruling by Uefa’s club financial control body (CFCB) that the club overstated its sponsorships from 2012-16, andthe sanctions of a two-year banfrom the Champions League and €30m (£25m) fine.
City had said on 14 February they would immediately appeal, in a very strongly worded statement rejecting the findings of the CFCB’s adjudicatory chamber (AC) that the club had committed “serious breaches” of Uefa’s financial fair play rules by overstating the sponsorships.
Although the AC’s members, mostly senior European lawyers including the English barrister Charles Flint QC, will not have their reasons for the findings published until after the Cas decision, the overstatement is understood principally to concern City’s main sponsorship by the Abu Dhabi state airline, Etihad. City’s owner, Sheikh Mansour, is a senior member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family, and internal City emails published by the German magazine Der Spiegel in November 2018 suggested that Mansour was funding the bulk of the £67.5m Etihad sponsorship. City have vehemently denied wrongdoing.
Cas said in a statement it had registered the appeal by City, which is “directed against the decision of the adjudicatory chamber of theUefaclub financial control body”. Cas said it could give no timescale for the appeal, which requires both sides to submit written arguments and evidence, then a hearing before a panel of three lawyers, who have not yet been appointed.
If the process is concluded by early summer, as City’s chief executive,Ferran Soriano, has said he hopes for, then City will be excluded from the next two seasons’ Champions League competitions if the ban is upheld. If the process is not concluded by the time next season’s Uefa competitions start, City will be clear to play in 2020-21, then if upheld by Cas, the ban will take effect for the following two seasons.
In 2018 Milan’s appeal to Cas against an AC decision to ban the club from Uefa competitions for two years wasconcluded within three months. Cas upheld the AC’s finding that Milan breached FFP financial limits, but annulled the two-year ban and sent the sanction back to the AC for reconsideration. Uefa and Milan then settled on a one-year ban, and although Uefa will normally be expected to defend the decisions and processes of the CFCB at a Cas appeal, discussions about a settlement can take place at this stage.
City were reported in the legal press to have instructed the renowned constitutional barrister David Pannick QC as an addition to their legal team for the Cas appeal. Pannick, who successfully argued at the supreme court against Boris Johnson’s government’sproroguing of parliamentlast year is in thesame London chambers, Blackstone, as Flint.