EPL powerhouse Manchester City has been banned from Champions League competition for the next two years and fined $33 million for breeching financial play rules, UEFA announced earlier today. The punishment was announced after an investigation disclosed City management overstated its sponsorship income from 2012-2016, then failed to cooperate in the matter as it was being investigated by UEFA.
In response, City said they were “disappointed but not surprised” by the ruling and gave notice of their intention to lodge an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. They went on to say they believe the matter was handled poorly and was “prejudged” from the start.
With the matter set to be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, who has the power to reverse, remove or leave the UEFA decision intact, there is a lot at stake for Manchester City, While the fine of $33 million is certainly a sizable sum, it pales in comparison with the money Manchester City would probably earn from Champions League competition. Aside from the monetary loss, the team roster could well be affected. There could be players who are keen on playing CL competition and might ask to be traded. Also, the transfer window might find potential players unwilling to sign with a team unable to compete for CL silverware.
There’s also the matter of whether their manager, Pep Guardiola, would remain at the helm of the club with Champions League competition no longer attainable. Coupled with trailing rivals Liverpool by double digits in the Premier League table, will Guardiola decide to leave at the end of the season?
Of course, the CAS has proven to be even-handed, at times reducing the penalties handed out to teams in the past. Recently, fellow EPL team Chelsea had their transfer period ban halved from two to one. Any reduction in the CL ban would be a boon to Manchester City, who thrive (and depend financially) on Champions League competition.