Manchester City have been banned from European competitions for the next two seasons for “serious financial fair-play breaches”, UEFA announced on Friday, with the verdict immediately contested by Pep Guardiola’s English champions.
City, who were also fined 30 million euros ($32.5 million), announced they were appealing the suspension to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) “at the earliest opportunity”.
“Manchester City is disappointed but not surprised by today’s announcement by the UEFA Adjudicatory Chamber,” the club said.
“The… flawed and consistently leaked UEFA process he (the UEFA chief investigator) oversaw has meant that there was little doubt in the result that he would deliver…
“Simply put, this is a case initiated by UEFA, prosecuted by UEFA and judged by UEFA.
“With this prejudicial process now over, the club will pursue an impartial judgment as quickly as possible” at CAS.
Guardiola’s City face Real Madrid in this season’s Champions League last 16.
Announcing the ban a UEFA statement declared: “The Adjudicatory Chamber has imposed disciplinary measures on Manchester City Football Club directing that it shall be excluded from participation in UEFA club competitions in the next two seasons (ie. the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons).”
European football’s governing body said that City “failed to cooperate in the investigation”.
“The adjudicatory chamber, having considered all the evidence, has found that Manchester City Football Club committed serious breaches of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations by overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016,” European football’s governing body said.
City lost a previous appeal to CAS over UEFA’s original decision to refer them to its adjudicatory chamber over the alleged FFP violations.
“An appeal would not necessarily lift the suspension but the request can be made,” UEFA told AFP.
The investigation into City was based on leaked emails published last year by German magazine Der Spiegel as part of “Football Leaks”.
– Boost for English Champions League hopefuls –
Guardiola’s City outfit currently sit second in the Premier League table, meaning that the fourth Champions League slot available for English teams would likely go to the fifth-placed club this term.
Sheffield United, promoted to the top flight last year, sit in fifth.
It is not the first time that Man City have fallen foul of FFP regulations, having been fined 60 million euros and seeing their Champions League squad reduced in May 2014.
The ban will raise questions about the future of City coach Guardiola and their key players.
Guardiola said last month that he could be sacked if he failed to beat Real Madrid in the Champions League last 16.
“If we don’t beat them, OK, come the chairman or the sport director and say, ‘It’s not good enough, we want the Champions League, I’m going to sack you’,” he told Sky Sports.
“I don’t know (if this would happen). It has happened many times and could maybe happen.”
Qatari-owned Paris Saint-Germain were also fined that year.
Seven-time European champions AC Milan were banned from this season’s Europa League for FFP breaches.
La Liga president Javier Tebas applauded UEFA for their sanctions of Man City, saying: “UEFA is finally taking decisive action.
“Enforcing the rules of financial fair play and punishing financial doping is essential for the future of football… we finally have a good example of action.”
City face Real Madrid in their first leg at the Bernabeu on February 26, with the second leg at the Etihad Stadium on March 17.
City are not the only English champions with financial problems – Saracens, the Premiership rugby titleholders and European champions have been relegated to the second-tier next season for salary cap breaches.