Manchester City were handed the suspension by UEFA’s club financial control body in February for “serious breaches” of club licensing and financial fair play regulations. The Premier League club vehemently denied any wrongdoing and appealed the decision at CAS last month, after previously describing the UEFA disciplinary process as “prejudicial”.
Manchester City were accused of deliberately inflating the value of income from sponsors with links to the Abu Dhabi United Group, also owned by City owner Sheikh Mansour, to avoid falling foul of financial fair play (FFP) regulations between 2012 and 2016.
The case against Manchester City was reopened when German magazine Der Spiegel published a series of leaked emails in 2018.
Speaking after the match,Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said he was confident the ban would be overturned and insisted his side deserved to play in European football’s elite competition. “Today we achieved one incredible challenge, which is a qualification for the Champions League mathematically,” Guardiola told Sky Sports. “That is the challenge that is the minimum requirement for this club. And these players have done it for the last six or seven years. “We deserve to be there because we won it on the pitch. Hopefully on Monday UEFA can allow us to play like this team and these players deserve to.”
“Whilst Manchester City and its legal advisors are yet to review the full ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the club welcomes the implications of today’s ruling as a validation of the club’s position and the body of evidence that it was able to present,” City said in a statement.
“The club wishes to thank the panel members for their diligence and the due process that they administered.”
More silverware could come before the end of the season as Guardiola’s side face Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-finals on Saturday before restarting their Champions League campaign in August, holding a 2-1 lead over Real Madrid from the first leg of their last 16 tie.
Manchester City’s victory in court will raise fresh questions over how effectively UEFA can police FFP.
But European football’s governing body said it remained committed to the system which limits clubs to not losing more than 30 million euros, with exceptions for some costs such as youth development and women’s teams, over a three-year period.