The football world was stunned to hear reigning back-to-back Premier League champion Manchester City had been banned by UEFA from European club competition for two seasons.
They were also fined 30 million euros in the process.
In a statement released by the club, they stated to be “disappointed but not surprised” by a decision they labeled “prejudicial” and are set to appeal in The Court of Arbitration for Sport. Moreover, City vehemently criticized the process of the investigation, stating how an independent body should have been sought to “impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence in support of its position.”
The Independent Adjudicatory Chamber of the Club Financial Control Body stated the club had broken the rules by overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016. They also added that the club “failed to cooperate in the investigation.”
This year long review stems back to November 2018, when German newspaper Der Spiegel published leaked documents alleging City inflated the value of a sponsorship deal in order to mislead European Football’s governing body to meet Financial Fair Play guidelines.
(FFP) was introduced in 2011 to prevent clubs in UEFA competitions from spending beyond their means. Under the rules, clubs need to balance expenses such as transfers and wages with television, ticket income and revenues raised by commercial departments. Moreover, financial losses are limited and clubs are encouraged to meet payments on time.
Manager Pep Guardiola addressed his squad before training on Saturday, urging them to stay focused, with the Citizens set to face West Ham on Wednesday before traveling to Madrid in what’s set to be a Champions League classic on Feb. 26. If they are not able to beat “los blancos” over the two-leg tie, it could very well be their last participation in the tournament until the end of 2023.
The question of a Premier League sanction still remains. There is talk of the club facing a points deduction due to England’s similar — yet distinct — Financial Fair Play rules. Moreover, there is also the possibility that City will be stripped of their 2014 Premier League title. As of now, however, those in power in England’s top-flight have yet to comment on the situation.
Guardiola’s future becomes more uncertain. Although the Spaniard ensured he would at least stay with the club until the end of his contract in 2021, the prospect of not playing in what has become the most important competition in the world, the Champions League, is unfathomable for one of the best managers in world football.
Likewise, the future of the club’s stars is gravely uncertain, as time will tell if they are willing to forgo their participation in a competition that is now considered by most more important than any domestic title. Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva are just some of the world class talents that will attract much attention throughout the European continent. Moreover, three first team players — Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho and Leroy Sané — are set to be out of contract by the end of next season.
If the ban is to be upheld, it will stall the club’s ambitions of joining Europe’s elite and conquering what owner Sheikh Mansour craves: Champions League glory.