Could Manchester City FFP ruling help Sheffield Wednesday in EFL case?
Manchester City’s successful overturning of a two-year ban from European competition may have changed the face of sports governance when it comes to financial regulation, according to one of the country’s top sports lawyers.
The Premier League giants were slapped with the two-year ban by UEFA after the authority had charged them with ‘serious breaches’ of Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules and were accused of ‘disguising equity funds as sponsorship contributions’ between 2012 and 2016.
Early last week City were cleared of wrongdoing by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and will line up in the Champions League next season.
Sheffield Wednesday face charges from the EFL that – if found guilty – could see them slapped with a points deduction. The case in in the hands of an independent disciplinary commission and any punishment, including a points deduction, could be enacted either this season or next.
It has been suggested that the finding on Manchester City’s case could impose a ‘chilling effect’ on cases in the coming weeks and months and that the nature of the u-turn has proven how difficult it can be to impose financial rules on football clubs.
Richard Cramer, recognised in Legal 500 as one of the country’s top sports lawyers, told The Star: “We'll be able to see exactly what the charges were precisely, how the EFL presented the case and how Wednesday defended it.
“Where there is a degree of scope that may well impact on the panel's decision is that the decision on Manchester City's case at CAS was a bit of a body blow to Financial Fair Play and the Profitability and Sustainability tests. If anything, that result will have helped Wednesday.
“Each case is on it's own merits but what we're beginning to see now is how lawful and how difficult it is to police Financial Fair Play.”
The Owls sit eight points clear with one game – against Neil Warnock’s Middlesbrough at Hillsborough – left to play tomorrow night. Mooted points deductions in the event of a guilty hearing have ranged from anywhere between six and 21 points.
Both the club and the EFL are awaiting a verdict from the independent disciplinary commission.