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Manchester City can play in the UEFA Champions League next season after the two-year ban handed down by European soccer’s governing body in February for violating so-called financial fair play rules was overturned on appeal by the Court for Arbitration in Sport.
The Switzerland-based court delivered its verdict on Monday morning. In its statement announcing the news, the CAS said that Manchester City “did not disguise equity funding as sponsorship contributions but did fail to cooperate with UEFA authorities.”
While the club will still be forced to pay an $11.3 million fine, it now has the green light to compete in the world’s most prestigious club competition, an event that it has been desperate to win since emerging as a global power in the 2010s under the stewardship of its deep-pocketed, Abu Dhabi-based owners.
The decision has major implications within the current English Premier League standings. With second-place City now eligible to compete in the Champions League, the Prem club that ends up in fifth — a spot currently occupied by City’s blood rival Manchester United — will be on the outside looking in. Only the top four finishers in England’s top domestic circuit punch their tickets to the vaunted international tournament. Man United can leapfrog Leicester City into fourth when it meets Southampton on Monday. The Premier League season will conclude on July 26.
While City’s participation in the Champions League in 2020-21 is now assured, the Sky Blues also remain in contention for the 2019-20 European crown. Pep Guardiola’s squad was leading its round of 16 matchup against Real Madrid 2-1 on aggregate when the competition was halted in March because of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The second leg of that matchup will be played next month in Manchester. The winner will advance to the quarterfinals which, like the semis and final, will be staged in August in Portuguese capital Lisbon.
Manchester City has won the English title six times in its 140-year history, with four of those triumphs coming within the last decade. The club has never been champion of Europe.
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