Defending English Premier League champions Manchester City will not be allowed to compete in any European club competitions for the next two seasons (2020-21 and 2021-22), after it was found guilty of committing “serious breaches of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations,” European football’s governing body UEFA announced on Friday. The club immediately said it would appeal the verdict.
The club, owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, royal family member and deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, is known as one of the biggest spenders in European football. He had long been under scrutiny. The Adjudicatory Chamber of UEFA, the club financial control body, found that between 2012 and 2016, Manchester City had deceived auditors “by overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016.” UEFA also claim the team “failed to cooperate in the investigation of this case.”
In addition to the two year ban, City also face a fine of €30 million ($32.5 million), although the lost revenue from Champions League games and TV royalties would likely dwarf that sum.
The club said in a statement that it was “disappointed, but not surprised” by the decision, announcing its intention to appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and saying the investigator, Belgian former Prime Minister Yves Leterme, always intended to sanction City.
From the soccer side of things, this could severely affect City’s ability to attract and retain big time players. Their roster is already loaded, but if they wanted to add one or two more big stars, it is likely that without the ability to play in UCL for two years layers would look elsewhere.
Manager Pep Guardiola has long been chasing the Champions League title that has eluded him since his days in Barcelona. This year may be his last chance for awhile, making it that much more of a priority for the City to win it while they can. Pep’s reign in Manchester could be crumbling as a result, but it is better to wait and see what happens with the appeals before rushing to conclusions.