Manchester City have been banned from the Champions League for the next two seasons and fined £25 million for “serious breaches” of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.
City are accused of overstating revenue and break even figures during the 2012-2016 seasons. Among other breaches, it is understood that the annual £67.5 million Etihad sponsorship deal was being largely funded by the club’s owner. Crown Prince Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan is a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family and Etihad is the state airline.
The repercussions of the ban for the club could be huge. Financially, it may have a significant impact on their revenue over the coming seasons. Kieran Maguire, a football financial expert and lecturer at the University of Liverpool said:
“Champions League participation can be worth up to £150m for a club. For a club the size of City, that can be a quarter to a third of their income.”
There have been rumours that if the ban is upheld, Pep Guardiola may walk at the end of the season. However, after the win against West Ham United, the manager said: “I will be here, no matter what happens.”. A number of big players at the club may leave, not wanting to miss out on the chance to play in Europe’s biggest competition. Among others, the contracts of Sergio Agüero, Leroy Sané and John Stones all expire in 2021, along with Guardiola’s. The worry for many fans will be whether the likes of Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva will see out their contracts beyond 2022.
Manchester City have not finished lower than fourth in any of the past nine seasons. If they are not in the Champions League for the following two seasons, their current UEFA ranking (6th) may drop, meaning they will face more difficult opposition in the group stages of the competition. If Manchester City’s appeal fails, the Premier League may also bring a case against the club, which could result in a points deduction for breaching their FFP rules.
PhD student, Rod Howlett
“I think it might have the paradoxical effect that leads to City being very strong in the league because they won’t have a massive fixture build up, like when Leicester won the league. I think the biggest impact would be Pep leaving because it is the first time City have had a manager in the long term that the fans are happy with and who is seen as a cult figure. Replacing him would be huge.”
However, City remain convinced that the charges will be dropped because they have a case of “irrefutable evidence” to overturn the decision. Ferran Soriano claimed that the investigation was in fact, “less about justice and more about politics”. In an interview last week, the club’s CEO asserted that “the allegations are simply not true” and hopes that the appeal, filed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, will be over by the summer.
Last modified: 10th March 2020