Manchester City have revealed how much they fear a UEFA Champions League ban by launching a legal challenge to halt the governing body’s investigation into whether they have violated football spending regulations.
The Premier League champions have asked the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to throw out the case that they deliberately tried to cheat Financial Fair Play, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday night.
There is a growing belief in football that City will be found guilty and face a subsequent Champions League ban in 2020-2021, as well as restrictions on transfer market spend.
By taking the case to CAS even before the UEFA judgement is passed, City are likely to delay the ruling.
UEFA’s adjudicatory chamber will probably halt their deliberations until CAS has ruled on the validity of its attempts to do so.
City did not respond to Sportsmail’s calls but if they felt they had a good chance of being cleared by UEFA it is highly unlikely they would take this course of action.
The club have previously said the referral to the judicial branch of UEFA’s adjudicators chamber ‘ignores a comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence provided by Manchester City.’
If CAS rule that UEFA does have a legitimate right to rule on City and the club are then found guilty, they could go back to CAS to appeal the judgement. But by doing so, much more information about the UEFA investigation will enter the public realm.
The UEFA investigation was sparked by leaks of City’s internal correspondence and documents to German outlet Der Spiegel.
The leaks implied City deceived UEFA for several years, including by hiding that revenue from potentially overvalued commercial deals came from the club’s owners in Abu Dhabi to curb losses and comply with UEFA regulations that limit spending on transfers and wages. City hasn’t disputed the authenticity of the documents.
A source with knowledge of the case told the AP that City had provided conflicting answers to some questions to investigators before the case was sent to the UEFA chief judge Jose Narciso da Cunha Rodrigues of Portugal, who also sits at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.