The outcome of Manchester City’s Champions League appeal on Monday was absolutely huge.
If the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decided that City were guilty of “serious breaches” of UEFA’s financial regulations, following June’s three-day appeal hearing, the Premier League club’s reputation would be left in tatters.
Furthermore, City would be forced to serve the two-year ban from Europe’s premier club competition that they were initially hit with back in February.
Last season’s Premier League champions were also fined €30 million (£25 million) as punishment for misleading UEFA and breaking Financial Fair Play rules.
Ahead of CAS’s appeal verdict, City boss Pep Guardiola expressed his belief that his employers would see their ban overturned.
“On Monday I’m so confident – because I know and hear the arguments of the club – [that] next season we will be there and after I will give my opinion and the club will give a statement,” he was quoted as saying by the Guardian.
CAS then confirmed on Monday that City's appeal had been successful.
In a statement on Monday morning, Man City announced the following: "Whilst Manchester City and its legal advisors are yet to review the full ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the Club welcomes the implications of today’s ruling as a validation of the Club’s position and the body of evidence that it was able to present.
"The Club wishes to thank the panel members for their diligence and the due process that they administered.
The fine has also been reduced to €10 million.
In a separate statement, UEFA said: "UEFA takes note of the decision taken by the Court of Arbitration for Sport to reduce the sanction imposed on Manchester City FC by UEFA’s independent Club Financial Control Body for alleged breaches of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play regulations.
"UEFA notes that the CAS panel found that there was insufficient conclusive evidence to uphold all of the CFCB’s conclusions in this specific case and that many of the alleged breaches were time-barred due to the 5 year time period foreseen in the UEFA regulations.
"Over the last few years, Financial Fair Play has played a significant role in protecting clubs and helping them become financially sustainable and UEFA and ECA remain committed to its principles.
"UEFA will be making no further comments on the matter."
So what does this mean for City?
Guardiola was right to feel confident. This is the best outcome that City could have hoped for.
They will now be able to compete in next season’s Champions League.
A ban would have seen them at risk of losing their star players - including the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero - along with their world-class manager.
But CAS’s ruling means everyone connected with City can breathe a huge sigh of relief.
The verdict also means everything stays the same in terms of qualification for next season’s Champions League.
The team that finished fifth in the Premier League would have sealed a place in next season’s Champions League had City’s ban been upheld, but Monday’s outcome means only the top four will qualify.
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