Court expects July verdict in Man City’s European ban case

Sports

FILE – In this Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020 file photo, Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus, right, celebrates after scoring his side’s opening goal during the Champions League, round of 16, first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain. Manchester City’s appeal against a two-year ban from European soccer will be heard over three days in June. The Court of Arbitration for Sport says it has set aside June 8-10 for the case. It is unclear if a hearing will be held in person at the court or by video link. No timetable was set for a verdict but a ruling is needed before English teams enter next season’s Champions League draw. Man City was banned by UEFA in February for “serious breaches” of financial monitoring rules and failing to cooperate with investigators. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File)

GENEVA (AP) — A verdict in Manchester City’s appeal against a two-year UEFA ban from European competitions is expected within five weeks.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport set the target Wednesday of “during the first half of July” to publish the decision of its three-judge panel.

The panel finished hearing three days of evidence about allegations City broke UEFA’s club finance monitoring rules and obstructed the investigation.

The CAS hearing was held by video link between Switzerland and England at an undisclosed location in Lausanne, with expert witnesses “in various countries,” the court said.

Confidentiality was requested by UEFA and City, which is owned by Abu Dhabi’s royal family.

“At the end of the hearing, both parties expressed their satisfaction with respect to the conduct of the procedure,” CAS said in a statement.

The verdict will not affect City playing in this season’s Champions League. It is due before City should resume play in August at home to Real Madrid in the round of 16.

The English champion won 2-1 in Spain and the second leg was postponed in March due to the spreading coronavirus pandemic.

UEFA punished City in February after a panel of independent judges found the club guilty of “serious breaches” of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules and withholding cooperation from investigators.

The investigation was opened after leaked club documents were reported in German magazine Der Spiegel in November 2018.

The published evidence appeared to show City deceived UEFA by overstating sponsorship deals from 2012-16 and hid the source of revenue linked to state-backed companies in Abu Dhabi.

City has denied wrongdoing. The club is also challenging a UEFA order to forfeit 30 million euros ($33.9 million) from its Champions League prize money — about one-third of its annual payout.

If City remains banned from next season’s competition, its place will go to the fifth-place finisher in the Premier League. Manchester United is currently fifth.

City could make a further appeal to Switzerland’s supreme court. Federal judges can intervene only on narrow legal grounds and would not re-try the merits of the case.

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