Manchester City is preparing for one of the biggest weeks in the club’s history with its appeal against a two-year ban from European competition starting at the Court of Arbitration for Sports on Monday.
Man City will miss out on the prestige of playing in the Champions League for the next two seasons and estimated revenues of £200m unless they convince three judges in the three-day video conference hearing that they have not broken UEFA’s financial fair play (FFP) rules.
A decision is expected before this season’s Champions League is due to restart in August. The competition was suspended in March with City well-placed to reach the quarter-finals after winning 2-1 at Real Madrid in a last-16 first-leg tie.
In February, UEFA banned City from Europe for the next two seasons and fined them €30m for “serious breaches” of the FFP rules and for failing to co-operate with the investigation.
In an interview with City’s in-house media team, chief executive Ferran Soriano said he was “disappointed but not surprised” by the decision.
“The fans can be sure of two things,” he said. “The first one is that the allegations are false. The second is that we will do everything that can be done to prove it”.
City was found to have overstated sponsorship revenue and break-even information in accounts submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016.
City has hired a group of high-profile lawyers to represent them at the CAS meeting. Their legal team is led by David Pannick QC of Blackstone Chambers and Paul Harris QC of Monckton Chambers.
Lord Pannick successfully represented Gina Miller against the government in September when the Supreme Court decided Prime Minister Boris Johnson acted illegally by suspending the parliament.
UEFA’s lawyers include Dr. Jan Kleiner, a partner at Bar & Karrer, and co-head of the Swiss firm’s sports practice group and Mark Phillips QC of South Square chambers.
If CAS confirms City’s ban…
If City’s ban is confirmed by CAS, the team that finished fifth this season will qualify for the Champions League. Missing out in European football would result in a loss of about £100m in revenue in a season. Additionally, transfer targets may be reluctant to join a club that is not in Europe, and questions would be asked about the futures of some of the City’s valuable players.
Contrarily, Guardiola has confirmed he will stay at the club next season even if they are banned from the European competition.