SPORT LAW – The Paris Saint Germain’s case is closed
Further to our last article on the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)’ financial fair play rules and the AC Milan’s case, please find hereafter our brief analysis related to the last decision that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has issued in the appeal arbitration procedure between the French football club Paris Saint-Germain Football SASP (PSG) and the UEFA.
Within the press release dated July 3rd, 2018, the UEFA announced that the Chairman of the Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) decided, on June 22nd, 2018 to send the decision dated June 13th, 2018 of the CFCB Chief Investigator to close the investigation into PSG (which began on September 1st, 2017) for review by the Adjudicatory Chamber.
The above decision of the CFCB Chief Investigator to close the investigation into PSG followed, as announced on the UEFA website itself by press release, a detailed review of transfer contracts and an analysis of the related management accounts which confirmed that such transactions were in line with the UEFA Club Licensing & Financial Fair Play Regulations (hereafter, “the CL&FFP Regulations”).
Furthermore, the Chamber concluded that after significant fair value adjustments of several club sponsorship contracts - on the basis of evaluations performed by independent third party assessors - the break-even result of the club remains within acceptable deviation for the financial years ending in 2015, 2016 and 2017. As previously mentioned, please find some details concerning the application of the break-even rules in our last article concerning the AC Milan’s case.
By press release dated September 24th, 2018, the UEFA announced that following the decision of the CFCB Chief Investigator to close the investigation into PSG and the subsequent decision of the CFCB Chairman to send it for review by the CFCB Adjudicatory Chamber, the latter decided on September 19th, 2018 to refer the case back to the CFCB Investigatory Chamber for further investigation.
On November 5th, 2018, the CAS registered an appeal filed on November 3rd, 2018 by the PSG against the above decision rendered by the UEFA in September 2018. The press release specifies that, at the parties’ request, the procedure will be conducted on a confidential basis with the exception of the final award which will be published.
On March 19th, 2019, the CAS finally upheld the appeal filed by the PSG and published the final award of its decision (without providing any further information considering the confidentiality of the procedure).
Nevertheless, we understand from the media release that the above-mentioned decision of the UEFA CFCB Chairman has been ordered on the basis of Article 16 (1) of the Procedural rules governing the UEFA Club Financial Control Body (hereafter “the UEFA Procedural rules”) which provides that :
“Any decision of the CFCB chief investigator to dismiss a case or to conclude or amend a settlement agreement or to apply disciplinary measures within the meaning of Article 14(1)(c) may be reviewed by the adjudicatory chamber on the initiative of the CFCB chairman within ten days from the date of communication of the decision to the CFCB chairman.”
On this matter, the CAS Panel concurred that the 10-day time limit which starts to run from the date of communication of the decision of the Chief Investigator to the CFCB Chairman, as set out in Article 16 (1) of the UEFA Procedural Rules, means that the review conducted by the Adjudicatory Chamber should have taken place within ten days and that since its decision concerning the PSG’s case was issued beyond the 10-day time limit, such decision is indeed untimely and must be annulled.
In fact, between the decision of the CFCB Chief Investigator to close the investigation into PSG dated June 13th, 2018 and the decision of the CFCB Adjudicatory Chamber to refer the case back to the CFCB Investigatory Chamber for further investigation, we have far more than ten days. Therefore, the provisions of the above-mentioned Article 16 (1) leads the CAS Panel to simply consider the first decision of the CFCB Chief Investigator to close the PSG’s case as final.
CBV Avocats therefore considers that, concerning this decision of the CAS Panel, it is important to highlight the fact that, even without any further details about the CAS Panel’s decision, we can easily note that such decision is exclusively based on a procedural issue.
In other words, the non-fulfillment by the UEFA of the above procedural rules allowed the CAS Panel to dismiss any possibility of new investigation concerning the PSG’s compliance with the break-even rules for the financial years ending in 2015, 2016 and 2017 as it was requested by the Adjudicatory Chamber on September 19th, 2018.