Uncertainty lingers over Court of Arbitration for Sport appeal after the club was handed a two-year ban from European competition for FFP breaches.
The coronavirus outbreak has condemned the world of soccer to a near-total shutdown and schisms stay over the short term future of this game.
Debates rage over what to do with the rest of present seasons; if should they resume? How should they restart? If they are voided altogether?
Manchester City, now banned by the Champions League for the following two years by UEFA on a severe violation of Financial Fair Play regulations, are one of those clubs caught in the crossfire with possible knock-on consequences for Pep Guardiola’s side.
The Premier League champions have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to overturn the decision but that situation is up in the air without a current date in order for it to be heard and the Swiss establishment not hosting any in-person hearings until May at the earliest.
The situation is further complicated by the uncertainty surrounding the European footballing calendar with leagues, besides Belarus, closed down and no means of knowing when they’ll be completed. Champions League football can be suspended with no plans to restart and City’s second leg against Real Madrid was postponed before all soccer in England was shut down.
City denies any wrongdoing over UEFA’s investigation. However, with an appeal not likely to be heard any time soon, the team could lodge an application to”remain” the punishment that, if maintained, would let them play in next year’s competition. That possibility has apparently not gone down well with City’s league counterparts; eight sides in the top 10 have written to CAS outlining their objections.
John Shea, a dispute resolution attorney at Lewis Silkin’s sports clinic, says City’s Premier League competitions aren’t currently parties in the case and would have to prove they’d be affected by any”remain”.
“An application to stay the execution of a choice is usually submitted at exactly the exact same time as the announcement of appeal. City’s appeal was filed back in February and at that point I do not think City requested a stay because CAS proceedings can move on an expedited basis, meaning that a decision could be reached by the summer and until the beginning of next year,” he informed Target .
“However, Covid-19 might have affected this program especially, so there’s very likely to be a backlog and that is assuming it is safe to return at the point.
“Arbitrators and parties are now encouraging to conduct hearings by video conference or to render decisions based on written submissions, but this is unlikely to be appropriate in a case of this importance.
“Beneath R37 of the CAS code, a party may apply for a stay of this decision through what’s called provisional measures and when this application is made, the other party is needed to answer the program within 10 days.
“Other Premier League clubs aren’t currently parties to the proceedings, but if they could show they are directly affected by the decision, for example because they could qualify for the Champions League at City’s location, then they may have standing to intervene in the CAS event and make submissions.
A season from Europe could potentially cost up to #100 million ($123m) and City had hoped to get an early settlement prior to the coronavirus outbreak took hold.
CEO Ferran Soriano said shortly after the ban was announced that he expected it would be settled by early summer. He also denied the allegations, insisting the team will do”everything which can be done in order to prove” their innocence.
City say they have”irrefutable evidence” that the claims aren’t accurate while Mr Shea believes the club will even argue about the way of UEFA’s investigation.
“It is clear from the statements that City made after the conclusion and from their previous effort at CAS to halt the disciplinary situation being referred to UEFA’s adjudicatory room, that they’re certainly peeved about the way the disciplinary process was conducted with several media flows and so I don’t have any doubt they’ll raise several procedural disagreements,” he said.
“In any event, the CAS panel will consider this situation de novo, which means they’ll review all of the evidence and arguments from both parties and reach its own decision, which City have really welcomed by speaking to the need for an impartial judgment at CAS.
“City refer to incontrovertible evidence in support of its position so notwithstanding their arguments concerning procedural unfairness, it is certainly possible that they’ll deny that sponsorship deals were inflated and that there was a breach of regulations. I haven’t seen the evidence, so I obviously can’t comment on whether City are most likely to succeed with this kind of argument or not.
“I strongly suspect that City will even attempt to challenge the legality of the FFP regulations on the premise that they contravene EU competition law. CAS formerly deemed them to be compliant with EU competition law in the case involving Galatasaray in 2016, but I am anticipating City to increase fresh arguments on this matter.
“Ultimately, I fully expect City to assert that the sanction of a two-season ban is disproportionate. AC Milan were also handed a two-year prohibit in 2018 for failing to follow the FFP regulations. On appeal to CAS, it was held that the Adjudicatory Chamber had failed to consider all of the details and thus it referred the case back to the Adjudicatory Chamber to make a proportionate decision based on all the facts.”
City also has another trick up their sleeve, according to Mr Shea. He says they could look to the example of former Peru captain Paolo Guerrero, who had been permitted to play at the 2018 World Cup when a Swiss supreme court froze a 14-month ban for a positive drugs test.
“If City’s appeal is rejected, they could possibly take the case to the Swiss Federal Tribunal for a further appeal or even the European Commission, European Court of Justice in Luxembourg or European Union Court of Human Rights depends about the arguments,” Mr. Shea added.
“At that stage, the club could find a suspension of the sanction to be able to play in next year’s Champions League – an example of that is the Peru participant Guerrero.”