Manchester City might have to pay the stiffest of prices for playing fast and loose with its books.
Indeed, European football governing body, UEFA announced Friday it has fined the English soccer club €30 million ($32.5 million) and banned Manchester City from the UEFA Champions League for two seasons; due to “serious breaches” of financial regulations.
As a matter of fact, UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body concluded Manchester City broke financial-fair-play rules; by inflating the value of its sponsorship agreements and attempted to derail the months’-long investigation.
“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.
“[The Adjudicatory Chamber [of the UEFA Club Financial Control Body] has also found that; in breach of the regulations the Club failed to cooperate in the investigation of this case by the CFCB.”
Meanwhile, UEFA in 2011 implemented financial-fair-play rules; which require clubs to break even within a set period of time and prevent what European soccer’s governing body calls “financial doping.”
Equally important, UEFA fined Manchester City £49 million (€59 million/$64 million) in 2014 for a previous breach of those rules.
Manchester City has assembled one of the best, and most expensive, teams in the world; through the backing and financial might of the club’s owner; Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the brother of the ruler of the United Arab Emirates.
Sheik Mansour has invested hundreds of millions of dollars over the past two decades — on players, coaches, facilities and the team’s operations — to transform Manchester City; which played in England’s second-tier as recently as 2002, into one of soccer’s biggest and most successful clubs.
City currently is in second place in the Premier League standings and was on course to qualify comfortably for next season’s Champions League.
However, the two-time defending Premier League champions face the looming prospect of watching European soccer’s elite competition from afar in 2020-21 and 2021-22.
Meanwhile, the club blasted UEFA’s ruling and said in a statement it will appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“Manchester City is disappointed but not surprised by today’s announcement by the UEFA Adjudicatory Chamber,” the statement said.
“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.”
Manchester City will face Real Madrid in the 2019-20 Champions League Round of 16.
The first leg will take place on Feb. 26 in Madrid.
The second leg will take place on March 17 at Etihad Stadium.
If results don’t go Manchester City’s way that date could mark the beginning of the club’s Champions League exile.