The entire footballing world was left shocked last Friday when it was announced that Manchester City face a two-year ban from competing in any European competition.
UEFA announced that Man City were being sanctioned for ‘overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016‘. The Etihad side are furious with the decision, arguing that they have effectively been found guilty by a ‘kangaroo court’, and promise that the fight is not over.
City’s breach of Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations has somewhat tainted their remarkable success in recent seasons and has led to speculation regarding the future of boss Pep Guardiola, as well as City stars Raheem Sterling, Kevin de Bruyne, and Sergio Aguero. Here are some potentially bizarre outcomes of City’s Champions League ban:
Gerrard given Premier League medal despite THAT slip?
The 2013-14 campaign is remembered as the year that Liverpool nearly won their first Premier League title, but for Steven Gerrard’s comical and costly slip in their defeat against Chelsea.
Manuel Pellegrini’s City pipped Liverpool to the title by two points, yet their FFP breaches have led to suggestions that they could have that triumph taken away from them.
So whilst winning a Scottish Premiership is looking increasingly unlikely for Gerrard’s Gers, he may finally pick up a Premier League medal which eluded him throughout his footballing career.
An entire City walkout?
Whilst City are set to appeal the decision, it remains unclear whether coveted coach Pep Guardiola and stars Raheem Sterling, Kevin de Bruyne and Sergio Agüero leave if the ban isn’t overturned.
Pep Guardiola has constantly stated his desire to see out his contract with the Citizens (which expires in 2021), and expressed his trust in the City hierarchy when they assured him there was no foundation to the claims being looked into by UEFA’s investigatory panel.
It’s difficult to say whether Guardiola feels let down by the ban. But with back-to-back titles secured, as well as success in all domestic trophies in a single season, perhaps Guardiola will struggle for motivation.
If City win the Champions League this season, it’s hard to envisage the Spaniard remaining at the Etihad for any longer, especially considering the recent rumours of interest from Juventus. Otherwise Guardiola’s future hinges on whether the club are successful in their appeal.
If Guardiola leaves, it could pave the way for several of City’s players to follow. Aguero and Sane’s contracts expire in 2021, John Stones’ a year later, whilst the contracts of Bernardo Silva, de Bruyne, Ederson, Riyad Mahrez, and Sterling also run until the summer of 2022.
Man United to win 21st Premier League title?
In the 2017-18 season, Manchester United came second, 19 points behind a remarkable City team that were dubbed ‘Centurions’ after amassing 100 points over the season and scoring 106 goals.
Following Spurs’ 2-3 win at Aston Villa on Sunday, manager Jose Mourinho questioned whether his former club United could be retrospectively awarded the 2017-18 league title.
When asked to comment on UEFA’s ruling, Mourinho told Goal:
“My view is that I didn’t lose one single minute analysing what UEFA and FIFA have to analyse. If I go into that analysis, I have to ask if the team that finished second in 2018 is going to be champion, yes or no?”
The ‘Special One’, who won the Europa League, Carabao Cup and Community Shield during his tenure at the Red Devils, stated: “That would be interesting. But jokes apart, I just wait calmly.”
Mourinho asked the question in a joking manner, but he did notoriously label finishing second with United as one of the “biggest achievements” of his managerial career.
Mourinho is no stranger to winning Premier League titles, having won three of them across two different spells at Chelsea. It now remains to be seen if he wins his fourth with United.
Sheffield United for Champions League?
The absence of Manchester City from the Champions League may come as a shock to some, but what is more remarkable is the prospect of Sheffield United featuring in Europe’s elite football competition next season.
One likely outcome of Manchester City’s two-year European ban this season could be the fifth-placed team in the league qualifying for the Champions League. After gaining promotion last season by finishing second in the Championship, Sheffield United currently sit in 6th position with 39 points. If that doesn’t seem surreal, picture this: the Blades will head from playing Barnsley to Barcelona, Rotherham to Real Madrid – all in their first season back in the Premier League.
If UEFA decide to retain England’s four spots and the team in fifth gets the spare one, brace yourself for an intriguing battle for the Champions League places.
Only time will reveal all the ramifications of Manchester City’s FFP breaches; there is speculation that the ban could be reduced – or altogether removed – should City appeal the ban.