The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) sent shockwaves across the football world when it announced that Premier League side Manchester City, have been banned from competing in its competitions for the next two seasons.
UEFA announced that City were found to be in “serious breach” of the Financial Fair Play(FFP) rules as the club “overstated its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016”.
UEFA had opened its investigation against Man City after German newspaper _Die Spiegel_ published information from documents that were obtained from the whistle-blowing site, Football Leaks. Some of the leaked information accused Man City of inflating its sponsorship deals, with the club owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan allegedly supplying the funds which the club falsely claimed to be from its sponsorship by Etihad.
In addition to the two-season ban, the club has also been fined the sum of €30m (£25m).
The club has subsequently slammed UEFA’s “prejudiced” ban and vowed to appeal the judgment at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), stating that the case was “initiated by UEFA, prosecuted by UEFA and judged by UEFA.”
In the meantime, as we await the decision of CAS, TOP SOCCER BLOG looks at the likely consequences should the judgement be upheld.
1. GUARDIOLA’S DEPARTURE
Although Pep Guardiola recently stated that he is “100%” staying next season, he might consider reneging from his initial statement should he felt betrayed by the club’s hierarchy, who had assured him that the club did nothing wrong when UEFA’s investigation began. Also, should he guide the club to a Champions League triumph this season, he won’t see any reason to stick with them throughout their mess.
2. LOSS OF PLAYERS
Absence from the Champions League will no doubt affect the club’s capability to retain its best players who will be tempted to jump ship in order to continue competing at the highest level. Moreover, many players joined the club after being enticed by the prospect of playing under Guardiola and will follow suit should the manager leave.
We already know that David Silva will depart at the end of the season (not because of the ban), players like Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane, John Stones, and Nicolas Otamendi have contracts that will expire during the club’s ban and would be reluctant to extend their deals further.
3. DIFFICULTY IN ATTRACTING NEW SIGNINGS
Should the club fail to have their ban overturned by CAS, it would be difficult for them to attract the best players in the game as they do now, and should the manager depart, the “Guardiola factor” which the club uses to attract players will also be lost.
4. CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUALIFICATION PLACES
The Premier league’s traditional system where clubs qualify for the Champions League by making the “top four” might change to the “top five” as Manchester City will be ineligible to play in UCL even if they finish in the top four; thus, their slot will be allocated to the club in the 5th position, and this might come into effect starting from next season. The same process applies to the Europa League spot.
6. REDUCED FANBASE & FINANCIAL LOSS
Competing in UEFA competitions allows clubs to generate lots of revenues ranging from an allocation from UEFA, ticket prices, sponsorship, among others. Absence from the competitions will affect City financially and also reduce their fanbase, which currently is not even up to that of their top rivals.
7. THE PREMIER LEAGUE’S PUNISHMENT
The Premier League is still conducting its own investigation and will wait for the decision of CAS. Should City be found guilty, it will also face severe actions from the league’s decision making body as UEFA’s FFP rules are close to that of the Premier league.
The league’s decision might be from the following:
- Points deduction
- Getting stripped of the league title it won during that period (2012—16), which is the 2013/14 season trophy which will be given to the league runners-up, Liverpool.
- Expulsion from the Premier League. A recent rule by the English Football League(EFL) states that clubs who have broken FFP rules can be demoted to the bottom tier of the football league (League Two). Should this happen, City will compete alongside Northampton, Port Vale, Macclesfield Town, Oldham Athletic, Grimsby Town, Salford City, Bradford, and the likes. Instead of Manchester United, City will be playing its derby matches against Salford City —a club owned by former Manchester United players.
This last decision is VERY UNLIKELY for the Premier League to take.
Football lovers across the world have been divided by UEFA’s judgement with some hopeful that the ban will be overturned by CAS (or reduced should City be found guilty) in order to continue enjoying the mesmerizing and remarkable brand of football being played by the club under Guardiola, while others have backed the judgement stating that any club breaking the rules to gain undue advantage over others should be punished.
Written by Muftaudeen Abdullahi Ishola