Man City were banned from the Champions League for the next two seasons after the club were found guilty of breaching the UEFA Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules. The Man City ban also included a £25 million fine after information disclosed by Football Leaks revealed the Man City FFP breach claiming that the Premier League club inflated sponsorship agreements to avoid a penalty. Amid the coronavirus situation, the Man City CAS appeal could be heard over a video conference and complications are set to arise with the defending Premier League champions still pleading innocence.
The Athletic spoke to legal experts to discuss possible outcomes of the Man City CAS appeal and the general assessment is that of the Man City ban being upheld. Discussing the possibility of City proving that UEFA's investigation was flawed, John Shea, a lawyer who has worked with clubs in England, believes that it is unlikely that Man City will find success with that appeal. Shea said that UEFA's Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) has been set up to be independent of UEFA administration and will consider all evidence afresh. The Man City CAS appeal is likely to try and prove that evidence collected from Football Leaks is inadmissible, as the information related to the Man City FFP breach was hacked by the website. However, both Shea and Christopher Flanagan, managing editor of the International Sports Law Journal, claimed that UEFA can find evidence with respect to the Man City FFP breach and in many cases have admitted evidence sourced from unlawful sources.
Paris Saint-Germain avoided punishment from UEFA following an investigation in 2018, again led by information released by Football Leaks. While CFCB chief Jose Narciso da Cunha Rodrigues was shocked at the chamber's decision to not sanction the Ligue 1 giants, he missed the 10-day cut-off point and PSG were let off the hook. Could the Man City CAS appeal use this as a situation where they have been unfairly treated?
Both John Shea and Christopher Flanagan believe that the Man City FFP breach is far more serious and is an independent case which means that drawing other examples won't help them much. Shea and Flanagan, who have experience in FFP regulations, believe that it is highly unlikely that the Man City ban will be reduced and also believe that the two-year ban is justified. Interestingly, there have also been reports that City could face a player exodus if the ban is upheld.
It has been rumoured that Man City could shed light on their European rivals' dealings and believe that sponsorships agreements of those clubs should also be under scrutiny. Flanagan believes that if Man City can prove it is a procedural breach by UEFA then they could avoid the ban. However, Shea believes that it wouldn't be on the grounds of appeal necessarily and they can only consider the Man City FFP breach in isolation. It is rumoured that the Premier League club could try and get the FFP rules scrapped after there have been arguments that have stated that FFP regulations restrict competition in the market.