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Premier League Continues Investigation of Manchester City

MIAMI, Fla. (1 April 2020) —

Manchester City has appealed its UEFA competition ban to the Court of Arbitration For Sport (“CAS”).

Meanwhile, while football is still on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Premier League is continuing its investigation into alleged breaches of financial fair play by Manchester City.

While UEFA has already imposed a two-year ban from the Champions League and a and a and €30m fine (£25 million), City could now also face domestic sanctions in addition to UEFA’s, arising out of the same alleged financial fair play breaches that resulted in the UEFA sanctions.

The Premier League is scheduled to hold another meeting of its 20 shareholder clubs on Friday as it tries to deal with the consequences of the pandemic. The possibility of City being docked points has been mooted.

However, the crisis has not affected its investigation into City’s accounting and recruitment practices, which began last March alongside law firm Bird & Bird. The Citizens could therefore face further disciplinary measures such as another heavy fine, as well as a potential transfer embargo or points deduction, if sufficient evidence is found which corroborates with UEFA’s investigation.

It is widely recognised that stripping the club of their previous titles as something which is extremely unlikely to come to fruition.

It is believed that the Premier League’s investigation centres on three arease: whether City breached the Premier League’s Short Term Cost Control measures between the years 2013 and 2016, if they submitted false claims in their UEFA licensing accounts and potentially broke third-party ownership rules.

The first part boils down to a whether or not City increased their salaries by more than seven per cent per season, a regulation which is no longer in place, but was during the relevsnt time period. The sole exception to that is if they were able demonstrate that the salary increases came from higher commercial revenue. The Premier League wants to determine whether City engaged in falsification of sponsorship revenues.

Secondly, the Premier League are also responsible for operating UEFA’s licensing process which was introduced in 2004 for clubs who compete in Europe most’s prestigious competitions. Any breach of that would also be likely to result in a sanction for City.

The third component of the investigation is regarding the club’s recruitment of youth players, with their relationship with Danish club FC Nordsjaelland coming under particular scrutiny.

It has been claimed that City had a four-year agreement with Nordsjaelland between 2016 to 2020, which allegedly enabled them to sign the best talent from their Right to Dream Academy for free. That could also land City in hot water if that constitutes a breach of third-party ownership rules – something which was banned by FIFA in 2015.

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By Ken Russo

My work in the business of soccer applies skills acquired in law practice with the commercial, communications and team operations side of the sport. Russo Soccer aims to inform, educate and engage in dialogue on the business and sporting side of the world's game.

Um advogado por formação, concentro meu trabalho nos negócios, comunicações e operações de equipes no futebol mundial. | Abogado con fundación avanzada en comunicaciones, enfocado en los negocios del fútbol y las comunicaciones. | Je suis un avocat experimenté dans les affaires de football.

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