Premier League giants Manchester City have been sensationally banned from the UEFA Champions League for two years after being adjudged to having committed “serious breaches” of financial fair play rules.

The news broke late on Friday as a statement from UEFA laid out the ruling of a hearing held at the end of January.

“Following a hearing held on 22 January 2020, the Adjudicatory Chamber of the UEFA Club Financial Control Body (CFCB), chaired by Jose, da Cunha Rodrigues, has today notified Manchester City Football Club of the decision on the case which was referred by the CFCB Chief Investigator,” the statement began.

“The Adjudicatory Chamber, having considered all the evidence has found that Manchester City Football Club committed serious breaches of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations by overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016.”

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“The Adjudicatory Chamber has also found that in breach of the regulations the Club failed to cooperate in the investigation of this case by the CFCB.

The Adjudicatory Chamber has imposed disciplinary measures on Manchester City Football Club directing that it shall be excluded from participation in UEFA club competitions in the next two seasons (i.e. the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons) and pay a fine of €30 million ($32.5 million).

The decision of the Adjudicatory Chamber is subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). If Manchester City Football Club exercises that right the full reasoned decision of the Adjudicatory Chamber will not be published prior to publication of the final award by CAS.”

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If upheld, the ruling would mean Pep Guardiola’s side would not be able to compete in the 2020-21 Champions League should they again qualify for Europe’s top club competition. They would also be banned from European competition in the 2021-22 season.

UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules are designed to prevent clubs receiving unlimited amounts of money through inflated sponsorship deals with organisations related to the owners.

The ruling was swiftly followed by an official statement from Manchester City, who said they were disappointed but not surprised,” by the decision.

“The Club has always anticipated the ultimate need to seek out an independent body and process to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence in support of its position,” the statement read.

“In December 2018, the UEFA Chief Investigator publicly previewed the outcome and sanction he intended to be delivered to Manchester City, before any investigation had even begun. The subsequent flawed and consistently leaked UEFA process he oversaw has meant that there was little doubt in the result that he would deliver.  The Club has formally complained to the UEFA Disciplinary body, a complaint which was validated by a CAS ruling. 

Simply put, this is a case initiated by UEFA, prosecuted by UEFA and judged by UEFA. With this prejudicial process now over, the Club will pursue an impartial judgment as quickly as possible and will therefore, in the first instance, commence proceedings with the Court of Arbitration for Sport at the earliest opportunity.” 

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UEFA’s investigation into City’s financial dealings was opened after German publication Der Spiegel alleged that the club’s owners, The Abu Dhabi United Group, had inflated sponsorship deals with the club to ensure the club complied with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations.

The group, owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, holds a 77% majority shareholding in the City Football Group, which owns Manchester City FC, as well as part or full ownership stakes in MLS side New York City FC, Australian A-League team Melbourne City FC, J-League team Yokohama F. Marinos, Spanish club Girona FC, Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay and Sichual Jiuniu FC in China.