English Premier League giants Manchester City have suffered a monstrous blow on Friday when they received an unprecedented two-year ban from participating in the UEFA Champions League and a fine of €30 million (£25 million) for breaching the Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules. The decision was taken by Europe’s football governing body after City reportedly found guilty of ‘overstating’ its sponsorship revenue in accounts submitted between 2012 and 2016.
Following the decision, City instantly issued a statement where they claimed that they will be appealing against the verdict in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The decision is likely to have implications far beyond just the ban or the fine and therefore, we have identified five ways it is going to impact City and the whole of European football.
UEFA—setting the marker
UEFA have been long accused of nepotism when it comes to handing punishments to bigger clubs over their use of finances in a wrong manner as compared to smaller clubs. However, the decision on Friday—if upheld by the CAS—would set a new precedent for big clubs across Europe to be very careful in their dealings or else they can be penalised in the same manner as the Manchester-based club did.
Real Madrid fixture—all or nothing for City
Any ruling of this magnitude would have a far-reaching impact on any club but City would believe that the timing of Friday’s judgment just could not have been worse. City are already pretty much out of the league title race after falling 22 points behind leaders Liverpool and their hopes of securing a major trophy this season was through a triumph in Europe—something the club’s hierarchy has been keen about for a very long time. However, just 12 days before their UEFA Champions League round-of-16 clash against the 13-time European champions Real Madrid, City have been dealt with an unexpected blow. Regardless of the outcome, the stakes could not have been higher for City than it is this time around and it will be interesting to see whether it will push them to become more lethal or will they succumb to pressure against one of the most in-form teams in Europe.
End of Pep Guardiola’s reign?
Guardiola’s future is the most obvious talking point being discussed amongst the football fans after the verdict announced on Friday. The Spaniard was already linked with a move away in the summer but the 49-year-old has always maintained the stance publicly that he is happy at City and is looking forward to honouring his contract with the club. However, the judgement has opened all sort of questions and scenarios regarding what Guardiola will do in the summer if the decision is upheld in any form by the CAS. If Guardiola opts to leave, there is a possibility of him moving to Serie A where Juventus are extremely keen of having him to replace Maurizio Sarri or there is a possibility of a move back to Barcelona as well who are currently struggling to compete with their fiercest rivals Real Madrid. But if Guardiola decides to stay in Manchester despite the ban in place, it will be the first time when he will be managing a team who will not be taking part in the Champions League.
Man City’s future—a bleak picture
Friday’s historic verdict is likely to have consequences for City in more than one manner. It is true that despite the decision, City are not going become Stoke City or Nottingham Forest overnight, but the club is bound to hit financially after receiving a two-year Champions League ban which would reduce their overall turnover significantly. Not only that but the club are also due to pay a fine of €30 million—a substantial amount even if you have as rich owners as Man City have. Moving forward, the club’s future business will be always evaluated more closely than it ever has in the past which would make it difficult for them to spend like they are used to—a sign which is ominous for a club of the size of Man City who have ambitions to become the world’s biggest in every term.
Lack of bargaining power
City’s ban and momentous fine will have an impact on their bargaining power in the transfer market as well. The likes of Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus might push for an exit and their potential buyers will look to cash in and sign these highly-rated stars for a lot cheaper price knowing the players’ will to participate in Europe’s elite football competition. Not only that, but other clubs can now hope to keep their star players who were attracting interest from City in the past by either increasing the demand or renegotiating with the player knowing that City cannot offer them Champions League football.