Manchester City have been banned from participating in the Champions League for the next two seasons and fined €30m (£25m) by Uefa over “serious breaches” of Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.
Uefa’s Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) found City guilty of falsely inflating sponsorship revenues when submitting evidence for the FFP compliance process. The investigation was launched after a series of documents were published by German magazine Der Spiegel in November 2018.
The “leaked” documents alleged that City’s owner, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family, was funding the majority of the club’s £67.5m annual sponsorship – encompassing naming rights to the club’s kit, stadium and academy – via the country’s airline, Etihad.
One email appeared to show that only £8m of the sponsorship revenue was in fact being funded directly by Etihad, with the remainder coming from Mansour’s own Abu Dhabi United Group.
City strongly deny any wrongdoing and confirmed in a statement that they were “disappointed but not surprised” by the verdict and would be appealing the ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport “at the earliest opportunity”.
“The club has always anticipated the ultimate need to seek out an independent body and process to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence in support of its position,” a club statement read.
“In December 2018, the Uefa chief investigator publicly previewed the outcome and sanction he intended to be delivered to Manchester City, before any investigation had even begun.
“The subsequent flawed and consistently leaked Uefa process he oversaw has meant that there was little doubt in the result that he would deliver. The club has formally complained to the Uefa Disciplinary body, a complaint which was validated by a Cas ruling.