Can Manchester City survive Champions League ban fallout?
The ripple effect created by UEFA's ban on Man City has the potential to become a tsunami which could wash away all that has been built at the Etihad Stadium.
The Citizens are still reeling from the announcement they will not be allowed to compete in the Champions League for the next two years and must get back on their feet quickly if they are to avoid letting the situation snowball out of control.
The reigning Premier League champions were quick to react to the news on Friday evening, having prepared for the worst when it came to UEFA’s investigation into their finances and have launched an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
CAS are likely to hear that appeal and make a ruling before the start of next season’s Champions League, which is due to begin in July.
City are confident they can either overturn the decision or at least reduce their suspension, but things are likely to get worse before they get better.
The Independent report it is ‘highly likely’ the Premier League will hand City a points deduction in light of UEFA’s findings.
The English top-flight hierachy are currently conducting their own independent investigation into whether City breached regulations regarding club licensing, and seem set to follow in UEFA’s footsteps by handing out a hefty punishment.
When that points hit will come into effect isn’t clear yet although the best-case scenario would for it to be implemented this season given City are 22 points behind league leaders Liverpool and can no longer qualify for Europe via a top-four finish.
A points sanction next season could have devastating consequences and Pep Guardiola and Kevin De Bruyne are already reported to be giving serious consideration to their futures.
The two men are winners and would be far from satisfied chasing just the FA Cup and EFL Cup should the Premier League – City’s main target next season given their European ban – be pushed out of reach via a points deduction.
Guardiola’s contract runs until the summer of 2021 and he’s given his word he will see out his deal, but the Telegraph have suggested otherwise, claiming the Spaniard could walk this summer if City can’t overturn their ban.
— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) February 14, 2020
The same situation reportedly applies to De Bruyne although he only signed a new six-year contract in January 2018, so City hold all the cards when it comes to his future.
De Bruyne won’t be alone in considering whether he wants to stay with a club not competing in Europe and there are likely to be further rumours regarding other squad members in the weeks ahead.
It is not just retaining the talent they have that is an issue, with City having planned for a major recruitment drive this summer after being blown out of the water by Liverpool this season.
It was understood Guardiola wanted as many as six new signings added to his first-team squad although it could now prove tricky to attract the necessary talent if they can’t offer Champions League football.
Having gone from also-rans in their own city to one of Europe’s top clubs since Sheikh Mansour’s takeover in 2008, UEFA’s ban could set the Citizens back several years if they don’t deal with the fallout correctly.