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A look at the legal issues in Man City’s appeal against UEFA

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GENEVA — Manchester City’s legal fight with UEFA was expected, but how the English champion will organize its legal tactics is not yet clear.

[ MORE: Man City files appeal against UEFA ban ]

The Court of Arbitration for Sport on Wednesday confirmed City met a 10-day deadline to file an appeal against a two-year ban from European competition — punishment imposed for “serious breaches” of UEFA’s club finance monitoring rules and failing to cooperate with the investigation.

The court’s update came hours before City was to play in the Champions League at Real Madrid.

The aristocratic, 13-time European champions are just the kind of soccer power City’s owners from the Abu Dhabi royal family aimed to dethrone when buying an underachieving club in 2008. More than $1 billion of investment has brought four Premier League titles, the attention of UEFA investigators and still no European trophy.

City faces a likely tough case at CAS, which has previously upheld UEFA’s “Financial Fair Play” system and the use of evidence obtained by methods illegal under Swiss law.

Still, City chief executive Ferran Soriano insisted last week “the allegations are false” and promised fans “we will do everything that can be done to prove so.”

UEFA excluded City from playing in the Champions League, Europa League or Super Cup in the next two seasons. UEFA also fined City $32.5 million.

[ MORE: Griezmann gives Barcelona first leg draw with Napoli (video) ]

The investigation was opened after leaked club documents were reported in German magazine Der Spiegel in November 2018. The published evidence appeared to show City deceived UEFA by overstating sponsorship deals from 2012-16 and hid the source of revenue tied to its owners in Abu Dhabi.

UEFA’s rules allow unlimited spending on stadiums and youth development, but control spending on player transfers and wages. Clubs must break even on spending their commercial income set at fair market rates.

In Manchester, club officials reportedly call the pending appeal “CAS Two.” In ” CAS One,” City lost its attempt in November to have UEFA’s investigation thrown out on procedural grounds.

The case is likely to be fast-tracked and will start at sport’s highest court in Lausanne, Switzerland. It could later go to the Swiss Federal Tribunal for a further appeal.

If City does not like the results in Lausanne, longer-term options include the European Commission in Brussels and European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. The UEFA judge who oversaw banning City, Jose Narciso da Cunha Rodrigues, sat at the European court for 12 years.

The case could also be settled out-of-court. That decision would involve UEFA leaders, including president Aleksander Ceferin, instead if its independent investigators and judges.

For UEFA, a prolonged contest with wealthy and determined club owners could be risky. A private agreement would surely be ratified by CAS.

“I think UEFA is too committed to FFP (Financial Fair Play) regulations to settle,” Antoine Duval, a sports law researcher who studies CAS, said in an interview.

If City’s appeal is lost, or only partially upheld by July, the club can seek a quick interim decision from a supreme court judge while the main federal appeal is prepared. A provisional freeze on UEFA’s ban could clear City to enter the next Champions League in September.

[ MORE: Bayern Munich puts Chelsea in three-goal hole ]

In May 2018, Peru captain Paolo Guerrero got a provisional federal ruling allowing him to play at his first World Cup weeks later. The 34-year-old Guerrero ultimately lost his federal appeal against a 14-month ban for doping.

“I would see much more reluctance on the side of the Swiss judges unless they are very confident Man City will prevail,” said Duval, who works at the Asser Institute in The Hague.

Key documents published in the “Football Leaks” series were likely obtained by a hacker now detained in Portugal.

City never disputed that the revelations were based on authentic information. Instead, it argued the evidence was stolen and reported out of context.

Illegally obtained evidence has been allowed by CAS and the federal court, including in appeals by FIFA officials filmed by undercover reporters and Ukrainian soccer players who fixed matches.

One of the internal emails said City officials preferred in a previous phase of UEFA monitoring to spend tens of millions on “the 50 best lawyers in the world” to sue rather than accept punishment.

UEFA also has financial accounts submitted by City that are mandatory for FFP compliance.

One reported big-money City lawyer is London-based Lord David Pannick, who beat Boris Johnson‘s government in a Brexit-related supreme court case in September.

In a previous soccer case, Pannick represented Queens Park Rangers in a failed attempt to have the English Football League’s financial fair play rules – modeled on UEFA’s system – judged unlawful under competition law. That case was settled after a first loss at a tribunal.

[ MORE: Report: Arsenal to let Lacazette leave for a Champions League club ]

In that first appeal, City’s legal team came from two London chambers, Freshfields and Monckton. It also retained the Swiss firm of veteran Olympic advisor Francois Carrard, using lawyers from its Lugano office and not the Lausanne base.

UEFA retained the Zurich-based firm of longtime advisor Michele Bernasconi, an in-demand CAS judge who is personally close to FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

A key next step in “CAS Two” is picking the three arbitrators. City and UEFA will each choose one, and the court appoints a panel president. Selections can be challenged.

Impartiality and independence of judges is one of the few grounds for appeal to the Swiss supreme court, Duval noted.

Infantino was UEFA general secretary in 2014 when he got involved in an agreement with City to forfeit $21.8 million of Champions League prize money in a first test of FFP rules. City’s high-value sponsorship deals from Abu Dhabi were also a factor then.

The settlement agreement six years ago then avoided a higher-stakes legal case for UEFA which could have undermined the FFP system just as it was established.

A CAS panel in 2016 upheld the UEFA rules’ compliance with European law in Galatasaray’s failed appeal against a one-season competition ban. There is speculation CAS judges could rule City’s two-year ban “disproportionate” and give a compromise verdict of only one season. However, Galatasaray, AC Milan and other clubs that broke financial rules were excluded for one year in cases that lacked the bad faith UEFA found in City’s conduct.

“It makes much more sense that Man City should face a longer sanction,” Duval said.

City’s lawyers, however, could question why UEFA dropped an FFP investigation into Qatari-owned Paris Saint-Germain last year with no action taken.

No timetable for City’s case was put forward by CAS on Wednesday. Previous appeals by clubs in UEFA financial cases were dealt with after a few months in June or July to avoid harming the next season’s competitions.

Soriano, the Man City chief executive, said he hoped for a resolution “before the beginning of the summer” in a statement notably toned down from previous, aggressive club comments.

Bundesliga preview: Bayern Munich v Fortuna Dusseldorf

Bayern Munich v Fortuna
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Bayern Munich can take another huge step towards winning an eight-straight Bundesliga title when they host Fortuna Dusseldorf on Saturday at the Allianz Arena and below are details on how you can watch in the USA.

The German giants are now seven points clear atop the Bundesliga table after winning 1-0 at second-place Borussia Dortmund in midweek and Hansi Flick’s squad are now just 12 points away from sealing another title. Four wins from their final six games will guarantee a 30th German title, as they play before title rivals Dortmund and RB Leipzig this weekend.

[ LIVE: Bundesliga scores ]

However, the stakes are high for Fortuna Dusseldorf too. Uwe Rosler’s side launched a stunning comeback to beat Schalke 2-1 in midweek and were 2-0 up in the 88th minute at Cologne last weekend before coughing up two late goals to draw 2-2. Fortuna, who sit in the relegation playoff spot but are just one point behind Mainz in 15th, are direct and dangerous on the counter and Bayern will be wary of an upset at the end of a gruelling week in Germany’s top-flight.

In team news, Bayern will be without midfielders Thiago, Philippe Coutinho and Corentin Tolisso and an intriguing stat centers around top goalscorer Robert Lewandowski, who hasn’t scored against Fortuna in five previous outings. One of the stars of the show since Flick took over has been Canadian teenage sensation Alphonso Davies, who has excelled out of position at left back and was nicknamed ‘Roadrunner’ by Bayern teammate Thomas Muller after another fine display at Dortmund.

Fortuna haven’t beat Bayern in 30 years and Kenan Karaman has scored five times in his last five games to give them hope in their relegation battle. USMNT midfielder Alfredo Morales could return for Fortuna but U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen, on loan from Man City, remains out injured.

Below is how to watch Bayern Munich v Fortuna Dusseldorf on TV in the USA this Saturday, while above you can follow the action live, as the three points are so valuable to both clubs but for very different reasons.

Bundesliga schedule

  • TV Channels: FS1
  • Stream Live: Via Fox Soccer
  • When: Saturday, May 30 – 12:30 p.m. ET: Bayern Munich v Fortuna Dusseldorf

La Liga to restart on June 11

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La Liga will restart on June 11, the Spanish sports council have confirmed, and below are details on the new schedule and how to watch on TV in the USA.

Three months after Spain’s top-flight was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic it will return with the full schedule yet to be released, but the plan is to open up with the Seville derby on June 11, Sevilla against Real Betis, then play the full Matchweek 28.

It follows the Premier League restart being confirmed for June 17, while Serie A will return on June 20 and the Bundesliga returned on May 16.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule

The Spanish sports council released the following statement following detailed meetings with the Spanish FA and La Liga.

“The Spanish football federation [RFEF] and La Liga have agreed, as part of the Contact Group formed together with the National Sports Council [CSD], the format of the eleven remaining matchdays to complete La Liga Santander and La Liga SmartBank [the first and second divisions].”

Further details revealed the La Liga season will finish on July 17, which means the 11 games would be squeezed into just over a month with games every single day to fit this season in. The majority of games are set to be played late in the evening local time due to the extreme heat in Spain during the summer months, while players will be given at least 72 hours rest between games.

Barcelona currently sit top of La Liga but have a slender one-point lead over arch rivals Real Madrid, while the top four battle is incredibly congested and should lead to some epic battles in the final weeks of the season. The relegation battle is also intense with up to 10 times in danger of being relegated to the second tier. The Spanish second tier will also resume play in mid-June, with Cadiz and Real Zaragoza currently in the automatic promotion spots and Almeria, Huesca, Girona and Elche in the playoffs.

Matchweek 28 will be played from June 12 to June 15 with the full La Liga schedule below, while there are also details on how you can watch on TV in the USA.

La Liga schedule

  • TV Channels: beIN Sports USA
  • Stream Live: Via beinSports
  • When: From June 11 to July 17

June 11
Sevilla v Real Betis

June 12-15
Real Madrid v Eibar
Leganes v Real Vallodolid
Valencia v Levante
Real Mallorca v Barcelona
Celta Vigo v Villarreal
Espanyol v Alaves
Real Sociedad v Osasuna
Granada v Getafe
Athletic Bilbao v Atletico Madrid

FA Cup schedule released

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The schedule for the 2019-20 FA Cup has been released with the quarterfinals, semifinals and final now having dates.

All eight teams left in the competition are from the Premier League and FA Cup quarterfinal and semifinal games will be played at weekends and see their respective PL games rescheduled for makeup dates. The Premier League has confirmed it will return from June 17 and the FA Cup will now restart just 10 days later.

The quarterfinals will take place in late June, the semifinals in mid-July and then the final will be on August 1. This decision then allows Premier League clubs still in European action to play in the Champions League and Europa League in August, when UEFA are planning to host those competitions.

In the quarters Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal and Man United all face tricky away trips to Leicester, Newcastle, Sheffield United and Norwich respectively. It has not been confirmed whether or not the semifinals and final will be played at Wembley Stadium, as usual.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham revealed that the new dates are dependent on safety measures being met.

“The health and wellbeing of players, staff and supporters remains our priority. The competition has been an integral part of the English football calendar for nearly 150 years, and we would like to thank the Premier League executive and clubs for their support in scheduling the remaining matches during this unprecedented time,” Bullingham said.

With so much focus on the Premier League restart, the FA Cup almost became an afterthought but it will carry on and the oldest knockout competition in the world will continue amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Below is the FA Cup schedule with the planned dates to play the remaining games.


Quarterfinals – June 27-28

Leicester City v Chelsea
Newcastle United v Manchester City
Sheffield United v Arsenal
Norwich City v Manchester United

Semifinals – July 18-19

Final – August 1

Brendan Rodgers reveals he had COVID-19

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Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers has revealed he had COVID-19 and has recovered fully from the coronavirus.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

The Premier League manager spoke to BBC Radio Leicester and revealed that he contracted COVID-19 in March and has recovered fully.

“Me and my wife had it just after [the season] broke up. A week later I really started to struggle, I had no smell and no taste. I had no strength, and I really struggled, and my wife was the same as well. I got tested and we both had it. I could hardly walk,” Rodgers said. “It reminded me of climbing Mt. Kilamanjaro, as you climb higher you get more breathless. Walking 10 yards felt very different. I went for a run, and I just couldn’t do it. I felt really weak, had no real appetite, and had a weird sensation for three weeks of having no taste”.

Brendan Rodgers is the second Premier League managed confirmed to have had COVID-19, as Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta tested positive back on March 12, just before the season was suspended.

[ MORE: Schedule | Reaction ]

All players and staff at Premier League clubs will be tested twice a week during the strict return to training protocols put in place, with contact training now allowed after a return to small-group training was a success.

The third round of COVID-19 testing saw a slight rise in positive tests compared to the last, as a total of 2,752 COVID-19 tests have now been carried out on Premier League players and staff with a total of 12 positive results. All 20 Premier League clubs have agreed to return to contact training in stage two of the ‘Project Restart’ plan.

The 2019-20 Premier League season will restart on June 17, the league confirmed Thursday, as ‘Project Restart’ is all systems go.

The Premier League held in-depth meetings with all 20 clubs and, among other matters, June 17 emerged as the date games will return. Due to the coronavirus pandemic the Premier League season was suspended on March 13 with 92 games remaining.