Manchester City Football Club’s appeal against the 2 year Champions League ban imposed upon them by UEFA will now be heard by CAS between 8 and 10 June 2020.
Yesterday the European Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) announced that the appeal by Manchester City against the 2 year ban from European competition would be held over 3 days in June 2020. UEFA imposed the sanction against City following an investigation into allegations that City had overstated sponsorship income in order to comply with the Financial Fair Play regulations.
The UEFA investigation was triggered following a series of articles in German publication Der Spiegel which were based on emails hacked and stolen from City.
It should of course be noted that City have maintained their innocence throughout stating that the emails were taken out of context and were part of an organised and deliberate attempt to defame the club.
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Both the investigation and the sanction imposed by UEFA would appear to be contentious – not just because of their impact – but because there are some apparent contradictions and inherent procedural problems in how the business has been conducted. It is this complexity which has lead CAS to set aside a full 3 days to consider the issues.
The ramifications of the decision by CAS are significant. Given the public declaration of innocence any finding against City may at the very least bring down members of the current board as well as impact upon playing and coaching staff. City are maintaining they are seeking public exoneration and will settle for nothing less.
As it stands the stakes are high and whilst we await the decision it is still worth bearing a few things in mind.
Firstly any decision may take a while – there may be a short overall decision within a month – but the full facts may take several months before they are published. So there may be headlines but even when the verdict is published many will be unsatisfied. There may be no exoneration and grey areas and suspicion may remain.
Secondly, there is still the potential to have the matter settled without the hearing. The prospect of a private settlement away from publicity and scrutiny still remains and although neither party is indicating that is something they want, stranger things have happened. Again that would deny the club the ability to sweep the allegations aside once and for all, but it would allow a line to be drawn and to move on.
Finally, once matters get into Court there is an inability to always control the outcome. Once a fire is set it can be difficult to steer. In my experience there can be unintended outcomes. So even a victory at CAS could lead to another more serious issue and unintended consequences.
If City win where does that leave the integrity of UEFA and perhaps the clubs who have been hinted at being behind a campaign of defamation against City? What impact will that have on sponsorship value and TV deals in the years ahead?
So right now our attention as City fans turns to CAS on 8 June but the reality is that this saga is unlikely to be concluded then. It is in the weeks and months following that the real drama may play out.