Manchester City is preparing for one of the biggest weeks in the club’s history when appeals to a two-year ban from European competitions begin on Monday before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

City will lose the prestige of playing in the Champions League for the next two seasons and with an estimated loss of £200 million in revenue if they are unable to convince three judges in a three-day video conference for not violating UEFA’s financial rules on the financial fair play (FFP).

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In February, UEFA banned City from European competition for the next two seasons and was fined €30 million (£26.06 million) for “serious violations” of FFP rules and because of failure to cooperate in investigations.

In an interview with City’s internal media team, CEO Ferran Soriano said he was “disappointed but not surprised” by the decision.

Manchester City owner, Sheikh Mansour

“Fans can be sure of two things,” he said. “The first is the accusation is not true. The second is that we will do everything we can to prove it.”

The Citizens were found to have a sponsorship deal that was too high and incompatible information in accounts submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016.

City hired a group of famous lawyers to represent them at the CAS hearing. The legal team is led by David Pannick QC from Blackstone Chambers and Paul Harris QC from Monckton Chambers.

Lord Pannick managed to bring Gina Miller against the UK government in September when the Supreme Court ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had acted illegally by dissolving Parliament.

Manchester City lawyers representing the club at CAS

UEFA’s lawyers include Dr. Jan Kleiner, partner at Bär & Karrer and co-manager of the Swiss company exercise training group, and Mark Phillips QC from South Square Chambers.

UEFA launched an investigation into City after the Football Leaks magazine, Der Spiegel published documents on its sites in November 2018.

The German magazine said the City owners were trying to avoid FFP rules by investing into the club monies which were disguised as sponsorship income. One of the documents released showed that Etihad Airways only paid £ 8 million from a sponsorship deal worth £ 67 million.

If CAS maintains City’s ban, the team in fifth place this season – currently Manchester United – qualifies for the Champions League.

In November last year, CAS rejected City’s efforts to close the case and lifted the ban on procedural grounds.

FFP was launched by UEFA in 2009 to prevent clubs from serious financial difficulties from spending too much. Clubs must act according to their abilities and achieve random goals, while transactions must be transparent.

City has qualified for the Champions League nine times in a row since qualifying in 2011/12. Before that, they last appear in the European Cup in 1968.

Failing to represent in European football will result in a loss of around £ 100 million per season.

In addition, City will struggle to secure their transfer target for next season as well as hold on to their current valuable players due to their absence from European competitions.

UEFA fined £ 49million in 2014 for violating FFP rules. A £ 32 million fine is deferred.

The Premier League said it conducted an investigation last March to determine whether City had violated its financial regulations.

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