*Manchester City team who are current EPL defending champions celebrating their last EPL win
It is no longer news that Manchester City Football Club in the English Premier League (EPL) have been banned from participating in a UEFA competitions for the next two years. Presently on the EPL table, Manchester City sits at number two behind Liverpool Football Club with 51 points. Liverpool who are on the verge of making history in EPL lead the pack with 76 points.
According to news from the blue side of Manchester, shortly before UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body announced its two-year ban of Manchester City from the Champions League, Manchester City Manager, Pep Guardiola was briefed on the situation by club executives.
Rob Draper who writes for The Mail in analyzing the development in his report explained that the financial model Manchester City has been operating under for 11 years since the takeover by Sheik Mansour and which lured Guardiola to the EPL from Bayern Munich, is under threat. In addition, he said City and the entire landscape of European football are now heading for a watershed moment this summer when the club contest their ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
If City lose again, they face the prospect of years of rebuilding and the likelihood that they would need to sell stars such as Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling to break even and to return to the Champions League one day. The Abu Dhabi project would have to be completely overhauled. Yet, if City win, the very foundations of Financial Fair Play will be undermined. The stakes couldn’t be much higher. It’s all or nothing now for City.
When Guardiola heard the news, he was said to be supportive. He has always said that he trusted the chairman, Khaldoon al Mubarak and chief executive, Ferran Soriano, a long-term colleague from his Barcelona days, when they told him City hadn’t broken rules and this would be resolved.
In theory, that remains unchanged. City claim they always expected this judgment from UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body. They have complained bitterly about an interview given by the chairman of the investigatory committee, Yves Leterme, in 2018 and they have protested to CAS about leaks of decisions. City’s lawyers have done all they can to present the process as fundamentally flawed.
As such, when he speaks this week, Guardiola is likely simply to repeat the club line that all will be well when CAS rule. That is likely to be in the summer. Though a complex case, there seems no reason it couldn’t be completed well before July 23, which is the earliest an English team might need to know the verdict and enter the Europa League. Guardiola is contracted to City until 2021 and says he will respect his deal. Whether he will remain as supportive if it turns out the assurances given to him by Al Mubarak and Soriano were injudicious is moot.
De Bruyne and Sterling will also be viewing developments closely. Both are contracted until 2023. Yet neither signed up to be part of a club in development, scrabbling to make the top four — in effect what Arsenal and Manchester United have become. In reality, if they lose at CAS, City may have to consider selling them if they want to maximise income and break even going forwards.
Speaking on BT Sport, former England and Tottenham midfielder Jermaine Jenas said: ‘From a player’s point of view… I have gone out there and won you two League titles, qualified for the Champions League… that’s what I’ve done as a player. Now you’re telling me my two trophies might be taken away from me and my ability to play in the Champions League taken away from me for the next two years. I don’t see how the fans could blame them, personally, for walking away. If it’s a [one] year [ban], I can see somebody like Sterling saying, ‘I’ll be fine, I’ll stick it out, I’m 26 years old’. But if it’s De Bruyne, who is 29? I think City will have to accept they are going to lose a few of their stars.’