Explaining Manchester City’s Ban from UEFA Competitions

Manchester City's ban
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 02: Kyle Walker of Manchester City in discussion with Joao Cancelo during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on February 2, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images)

There is a lot that goes into Manchester City‘s ban from UEFA competitions in the next two seasons.  This ban comes following a UEFA investigation into City’s alleged breaching of Financial Fair Play. Its a very serious punishment, that Manchester City has already decided to appeal.  So let’s unpack what everything means for the Citizens going forward.

Explaining Manchester City’s Ban from UEFA Competitions

The Allegations

Let’s start with the allegations themselves.  Manchester City is accused to have doctored sponsorship payments to circumvent UEFA’s Financial Fair Play.  The allegations are based on emails obtained by Football Leaks and published in the German media company Der Spiegl.

According to those emails, Manchester City’s shirt sponsor, Etihad Airways, only paid £8 million of a £67.5 million sponsorship deal in 2013.  Manchester City’s owners, the Abu Dhabi United Group, allegedly paid the other £59.5 million.

UEFA are treating this allegation as one of a repeat offender.  In 2014, UEFA fined City £49 million for an undisclosed FFP rules breach.  The Citizens were able to save £32 million by complying with FFP going forward, as they have continued to do.

Manchester City’s Ban

This punishment seems to be more about UEFA saving face more than anything else.  Manchester City has complied with intense financial regulation and scrutiny by UEFA, FIFA and the Premier League since their fine in 2014.  It is the brazen nature with which they have allegedly circumvented FFP that brings the UEFA punishment.

The Football Leaks emails don’t simply expose Manchester City’s financials.  They are a reflection of the way Manchester City thought of FFP in 2013.  They really didn’t feel that regulations applied to them and that they could get out of almost any punishment.

That feeling is reflected by UEFA’s actions in dealing with Man City.  They could have easily thrown Man City out of the Champions League for the violations which eventually saw them fined in 2014.  There was even an idea at the time that Man City could beat UEFA in a legal battle like the one that they are gearing up for now.

Court of Arbitration for Sport

Manchester City has already released a statement where they said they would appeal the punishment. The Court of Arbitration for Sport will hold the appeal sometime in the future.  Whether or not that appeal will be heard in time for next season is impossible to know right now.

But Man City will take heart knowing how the court has handled previous UEFA punishments.  Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and PSG have all had various UEFA punishments thrown out or reduced in CAS over the years.

However, that does not mean that it will be thrown out.  Manchester City will have to find something in UEFA’s investigation that allows CAS to overturn the punishment.  So in the meantime, they need to prepare.

What Does A Ban Mean?

As the Independent pointed out last June, the Champions League plays a significant part in Manchester City’s profitability.  The club made only a £10.4 million profit on the 2017-18 season.  That season included £55.7 million in Champions League revenue for reaching the quarterfinals.

So losing out on Champions League football would certainly be a blow to their expect roster turnover.  It would also likely see Manchester City selling one or two of their star players.  It’s easy to expect this ruling to play a factor in Leroy Sane‘s proposed Bayern Munich transfer.

And then there is Pep Guardiola.  This ban has inevitably increased speculation about his time left at Man City.  However, he has not committed to staying much longer.  His contract ends after next season, and it is likely that he could leave Manchester after this season before news of the ban came out.

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