Manchester City’s two-year ban from European competition has been overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The club’s ban has also been reduced to €10m.
City said in a statement: “The club welcomes the implications of today’s ruling as a validation of the cub’s position and the body of evidence that it was able to present. The club wishes to thank the panel members for their diligence and the due process that they administered.”
European football’s governing body UEFA issued the ban on City in February for breaching Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules and also imposed a €30m fine on the club.
UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) determined that City had committed “serious breaches” of Uefa’s FFP regulations “by overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to Uefa between 2012 and 2016”.
City vehemently denied the charges and appealed the verdict at the Court of Arbitration for Sport – the highest court for settling sporting disputes.
A panel of three European lawyers convened by CAS heard the appeal by video conference from 8-10 June.
Revealing its position on Monday, CAS said its judgement “emphasised that most of the alleged breaches reported by the adjudicatory chamber of the CFCB were either not established or time-barred.
“As the charges with respect to any dishonest concealment of equity funding were clearly more significant violations than obstructing the CFCB’s investigations, it was not appropriate to impose a ban on participating in UEFA’s club competitions for Manchester City’s failure to co-operate with the CFCB’s investigations alone.”
On reducing the fine, CAS said that, while it considered “the importance of the co-operation of clubs in investigations conducted by the CFCB” and Manchester City’s “disregard of such principle and its obstruction of the investigations”, the CAS panel “considered it appropriate to reduce Uefa’s initial fine by two-thirds”.
It added: “The final award with reasons will be published on the Cas website in a few days.”
UEFA said in response to Monday’s verdict: “Uefa notes that the CAS panel found that there was insufficient conclusive evidence to uphold all of the CFCB’s conclusions in this specific case and that many of the alleged breaches were time-barred due to the five-year time period foreseen in the Uefa regulations.
“Over the last few years, financial fair play has played a significant role in protecting clubs and helping them become financially sustainable and Uefa and ECA [European Club Association] remain committed to its principles.”
The ruling means City, who are guaranteed to finish second in the Premier League this season, will play in the 2020-21 Champions League.
Pep Guardiola’s side face Real Madrid in their last-16 second leg at Etihad Stadium on 7 August in this season’s competition.
They lead 2-1 from the first leg in Madrid and will face Juventus or Lyon in the quarter-finals, which will be held in Lisbon, if they progress.