Manchester City will have to wait until ‘the first half of July’ to learn whether they will be playing European football over the next two season’s following the conclusion of their appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
UEFA found the reigning Premier League champions guilty of inflating the value of their sponsorship deals to circumvent Financial Fair Play regulations back in February, handing them a two-year ban from European competition and a €30 million fine.
The investigation came off the back of a series of reports in German publication Der Spiegel, who published a number of hacked emails which appeared to show that City’s owners had injected funds into the club through their other businesses in order for the club’s accounts to satisfy FFP criteria.
Man City have maintained their innocence and immediately announced their intention to lodge an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), an appeal which has been held over the last three days, with the outcome of the hearing set to be announced by mid-July.
A CAS statement reads: “The hearing in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) arbitration between Manchester City FC and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) concluded at 4:15pm (CET) today. The hearing, initiated on 8 June 2020 in the morning, was conducted by videoconference, with participants in Lausanne and London, and expert witnesses in various countries, in accordance with the schedule planned. At the end of the hearing, both parties expressed their satisfaction with respect to the conduct of the procedure.
“The Panel of arbitrators in charge of the matter, composed of Mr Rui Botica Santos (Portugal), president, Prof. Ulrich Haas (Germany) and Mr Andrew McDougall QC (France), will start its deliberations and prepare the Arbitral Award containing their decision.
“The decision is expected to be issued during the first half of July 2020. The exact date will be communicated in advance.”
The planned timing of the outcome will provide clarity for City as well a number of top-flight sides before the end of the season, the rescheduled Premier League season set to finish on July 26th.
Should the UEFA’s decision be upheld, the team finishing in fifth is likely to be awarded a place in next season Champions League, assuming City maintain their place in the top four. As it stands Wolves, Sheffield United, Spurs and Arsenal are all within five points of fifth-placed Manchester United.
The outcome could also have a serious impact on City’s ability to retain a number of their players, with Kevin de Bruyne having suggested he could leave if the club are expelled from Europe for the full two seasons.