Manchester City start appeal against Champions League ban
Manchester City's appeal against a two-year ban from European football competitions opened at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in the Swiss city of Lausanne on Monday.
European football’s ruling body, Uefa, imposed the suspension after finding the club guilty of exaggerating the amount of money it made from sponsorship in order to hide its failure to comply with financial fair-play rules between 2012 and 2016.
City were also fined 30 million euros.
Uefa’s case against the club was prompted by several leaked emails published by the German magazine Der Spiegel in 2018.
They appeared to show how City manufactured extra sponsorship revenue from a series of companies with connections to the club's Abu Dhabi-based owner Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
City have rejected Uefa's allegations.
"Based on our experience and our perception, this seems to be less about justice and more about politics," said Ferran Soriano, the chief executive of the City Football Group before the hearing.
However, they have still not hoisted the Champions League, European club football’s most prestigious piece of silverware.
City are in the last 16 of the 2019/20 competition and will be allowed to continue even if they lose the appeal.
But a two-season ban from the tournament could undermine the club's ability to woo international stars or even keep some of their roster.
"Two years would be long,” midfielder Kevin De Bruyne told the Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws last month. “One year is something I might be able to cope with.”
City are well placed to reach the 2020/21 competition. Before the English Premier League was suspended as part of the country’s fight to arrest the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, City occupied the second of the four slots for direct access into the group stages of next season’s competition.
Pep Guardiola’s will resume on 17 June four points ahead of third-placed Leicester City who have played one game more.
If City were to finish in the top four and lose their appeal, the team finishing fifth in the Premier League would advance to the Champions League.
Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morningSubscribe