Manchester City showed a “blatant disregard” to co-operating with Uefa’s investigation into potential Financial Fair Play (FFP) breaches, says the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas).
That is despite Cas overturning City’s two-year ban from European competition, which was issued by Uefa in February.
The club’s fine was also cut from 30m euros (£26.9m) to 10m euros.
Cas’ written findings also say a majority of its panel found the failure to co-operate was a “severe breach”.
However they did not find that the lack of co-operation was decisive in the charges of breaching FFP rules being dismissed.
“The panel is of the view that Uefa by no means filed frivolous charges against City but based on the evidence the panel cannot reach the conclusion that disguised funding was paid to City,” the report, released on Tuesday, said.
It added: “City’s failure to co-operate with the investigation is a severe breach and City are to be seriously reproached.”
The documents also reveal that in March 2020 nine Premier League clubs filed an application for intervention to Cas “opposing any possible application by City” to be allowed to play in Europe next season pending an appeal decision. This was before the Cas hearing.
However, as City never made such an application, it was never processed. The nine Premier League clubs who made the application were Arsenal, Burnley, Chelsea, Leicester, Liverpool, Man United, Newcastle, Tottenham and Wolves.
Earlier this month, Cas overturned the two-year ban, saying that most of the alleged breaches of FFP rules were either not established or time-barred.
The club were however punished for failing to cooperate with Uefa’s process after failing to provide substantial amounts of evidence until they took the case before Cas.
Uefa began its investigation into City after German newspaper Der Spiegel published leaked documents in November 2018 alleging City had inflated the value of a sponsorship deal, misleading European football’s governing body.
Reports alleged City – who have always denied wrongdoing – deliberately misled Uefa so they could meet FFP rules requiring clubs to break even.
In its report, Cas said Uefa maintained the club “on countless occasions refused to answer questions, refused to provide documents, refused to arrange for the attendance of requested persons and – ultimately – it even instructed its own expert witness not to answer specific questions”.
However, Cas said it only found two specific requests in which City failed to comply with its duty of co-operation.
The club said it co-operated “in the face of a shifting and still unparticularised case involving allegations of fraud and conspiracy” and the reason Uefa knew about the disputed transactions is because the club cooperated and “explained those transactions in great detail”.
The club added it was not required to comply with every demand made of them, just those “proper” and “reasonable” requests that were “relevant” to decision-making.
Uefa said the case represented “the most serious, sophisticated, deliberate and fundamental attempt to circumvent and violate basic financial fair play principles”. It said the “attitude of the club” should also be considered, given it gave “demonstrably incorrect information and continues to change its explanations”.
It added the “evidence on record is overwhelming” and consists of the Football Leaks Documents and accounting evidence.
However, Cas said the burden of proof lay with the governing body and the majority of its panel found Uefa did not satisfy such burden.