Manchester City win appeal to overturn Champions League ban

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Manchester City will compete in next season’s Champions League after the Premier League club had their two-year ban from European football overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Monday.

City, who confirmed their place in next season’s European Cup with the 5-0 thrashing of Brighton & Hove Albion, lodged their appeal to CAS in February after Uefa’s club financial control body issued the suspension in February.

Adjudicatory Chamber of the Uefa Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) ruled the club had committed “serious breaches” of financial fair play regulations between 2012 and 2016.

City vehemently denied all charges. Chief executive Ferran Soriano had said the allegations were “simply not true” and “irrefutable evidence” would be provided to prove the club’s innocence.

CAS’ ruling has vindicated City’s stance.

“The CAS award emphasised that most of the alleged breaches reported by the Adjudicatory Chamber of the CFCB were either not established or time-barred,” CAS said in a statement on their ruling.

“As the charges with respect to any dishonest concealment of equity funding were clearly more significant violations than obstructing the CFCB’s investigations, it was not appropriate to impose a ban on participating in Uefa’s club competitions for MCFC’s failure to cooperate with the CFCB’s investigations alone.”

The initial fine of €30 million (Dh124.6m) has been reduced to €10m.

City manager Pep Guardiola said prior to the ruling that he expected the club win their appeal, saying: “I am confident in the club. I know their arguments, the defence they had and next season we are going to be in the place that we won on the pitch this season and, in some moments, in a marvellous way.

“We’ll respect the decision but I try to be involved knowing exactly what happened and I am fully confident about what the club has done.”

City’s participation in the 2020/21 Champions League means the clubs finishing third and fourth in the Premier League will join Guardiola’s side and champions Liverpool in next season’s competition.

Had the ban been upheld, the club that finished in fifth place would have qualified. As things stand, Chelsea are in third and Leicester City sit fourth, although Manchester United can leapfrog both if they beat Southampton on Monday night.

After Monday’s game, there are three league fixtures remaining to decide the final Champions League places.

City could still enter next season’s European Cup as defending champions. They hold a 2-1 lead over Real Madrid ahead of the last 16 second leg at the Etihad Stadium on August 7.

Should City progress past the Primera Liga leaders, they will take on either Juventus or Lyon in the quarter-finals in Lisbon, Portugal, where the rest of the Champions League will be completed over single-leg ties.