LONDON — English Premier League champions Manchester City have been banned from playing in the Champions League, European soccer’s premier competition, for two seasons.
The Union of European Football Associations, the governing body for the sport in Europe, also fined the club 30 million euros ($32.5 million), for committing “serious breaches” of UEFA’s club licensing and financial fair play regulations, which are designed to prevent soccer clubs from spending more than they earn.
It said the chief investigator for the agency that oversees club licensing and financial regulations had found that Manchester had broken the rules by "overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016."
It added that the club "failed to cooperate in the investigation."
Manchester City said in a statement that it was “disappointed but not surprised” by the announcement, which means it will not be able to compete in both the Champions League and the Europa League.
The club can appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which is headquartered in the Swiss city of Lausanne.
"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," it said.
Calling the UEFA investigation "flawed," the club said: "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."
Manchester City will still be able to play Spanish giants Real Madrid in the last 16 of this year's Champions League tournament. The first leg is set to be played on Feb. 26, at the Bernabeu stadium in the Spanish capital.