Ap­peal rul­ing could cost City De Bruyne, £200m and man­ager

 Three po­ten­tial sce­nar­ios await Gu­ra­di­ola’s side as they pre­pare to hear today whether two-year Uefa ban is up­held

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Total Football - NORTH­ERN FOOT­BALL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

James Ducker

City’s worst night­mare from the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport ver­dict could have se­vere reper­cus­sions from a fi­nan­cial, sport­ing and rep­u­ta­tional stand­point.

The club earned £83 mil­lion in tele­vi­sion and prize money from the Cham­pi­ons League last sea­son, when they reached the quar­ter­fi­nals, plus a fur­ther £10mil­lion in match-day in­come.

No Cham­pi­ons League foot­ball for two sea­sons could cost the club in ex­cess of £200 mil­lion once Uefa’s €30 mil­lion (£27 mil­lion) fine for breach­ing fi­nan­cial fair play rules is fac­tored in, and there may be the added threat of spon­sors want­ing money back if there are claw­back clauses in their con­tracts.

The tim­ing for City could not be worse com­ing on the back of the Covid-19 cri­sis, which has al­ready se­verely hit match-day in­come with games played be­hind closed doors and re­bates to broad­cast­ers.

Pep Guardi­ola has planned a re­build of his squad this sum­mer af­ter a meek sur­ren­der of the Pre­mier League ti­tle to Liver­pool, the £45 mil­lion sale of Leroy Sane to Bay­ern Mu­nich and the im­pend­ing de­par­ture of David Silva. But the City man­ager could find there is sig­nif­i­cantly less money to spend and even be forced to sell a star player.

Kevin De Bruyne said in May that he would con­sider his fu­ture if the ban was up­held, al­though re­ports in Bel­gium in re­cent days sug­gested he was happy at the club. Ra­heem Ster­ling may as­sess his op­tions.

Such a sce­nario could also weaken City’s at­tempts to keep hold of Guardi­ola. He has vowed to see out the re­main­ing year of his con­tract, re­gard­less of whether there is no Cham­pi­ons League foot­ball next sea­son. Yet he might be re­luc­tant to ex­tend beyond 2021 if asked to work un­der tighter fi­nan­cial con­straints and with no Euro­pean foot­ball.

The Pre­mier League has also been in­ves­ti­gat­ing City’s fi­nances and seems to have been wait­ing for Cas to re­turn its ver­dict be­fore an­nounc­ing its po­si­tion.

If Cas re­jects City’s ap­peal and de­ter­mines that they de­ceived Uefa, the club could be at risk of a points de­duc­tion from the Pre­mier League, which could deal a fa­tal blow to hopes of wrest­ing the ti­tle back from Liver­pool.

If Cas sides with Uefa, City would be able to ap­peal only to the Swiss fed­eral courts and gen­er­ally only if a Cas ar­bi­tra­tion panel made a clear er­ror in law or the pro­ceed­ings were deemed un­fair.

Some of the same headaches will still ap­ply whether a ban is one year or two but a shorter sus­pen­sion by the three-per­son panel would be much eas­ier to stom­ach fi­nan­cially

Pres­sure: Pep Guardi­ola’s loy­alty to City will be tested if Cas backs Uefa’s two-year ban

given the wealth of City’s own­ers, and cer­tainly im­prove the prospects of Guardi­ola sign­ing a new con­tract.

City’s Abu Dhabi hi­er­ar­chy could re­di­rect funds gen­er­ated from the sale of a £389mil­lion stake in their City Foot­ball Group em­pire to the US pri­vate equity gi­ant, Sil­ver Lake, last Novem­ber to help cover any cash short­falls brought about by an ab­sence of Cham­pi­ons League foot­ball. They have al­ready been do­ing that to help them through the coro­n­avirus cri­sis.

Guardi­ola may find that, with a re­duced bud­get, he will be un­able to sign the three to five play­ers he has been tar­get­ing and in­stead have to set­tle for a cen­tre-half and left-back only. Whether City have a harder time try­ing to re­cruit with no Cham­pi­ons League foot­ball to of­fer re­mains to be seen. It was not an ob­sta­cle when they bought Silva and Yaya Toure in 2010 and City may ar­gue to po­ten­tial suit­ors that their prospects of win­ning back the Pre­mier League ti­tle would be en­hanced with­out the dis­trac­tion.

A ban would in­crease the pres­sure on City to de­liver Cham­pi­ons League suc­cess this sea­son. City play Real Madrid in the sec­ond leg of their round-of-16 tie next month.

The ob­vi­ous ben­e­fi­cia­ries of City be­ing de­nied en­try to the Cham­pi­ons League next sea­son would be their Pre­mier League ri­vals. With City likely to fin­ish sec­ond be­hind Liver­pool, their Cham­pi­ons League spot would go to the fifth-placed team in the Pre­mier League. That, in turn, would likely cre­ate an ex­tra Europa League plac­ing.

City have long in­sisted they have no case to an­swer. A suc­cess­ful ap­peal would be a bit­ter blow to City’s do­mes­tic and Euro­pean ri­vals – on and off the pitch. Fifth place would not re­sult in a Cham­pi­ons League spot this sea­son and Guardi­ola, armed with the fi­nances to over­see a full re­build of his squad, may feel re-en­er­gised and more in­clined to sign a new con­tract. Top play­ers would see no need to leave and oth­ers might be ea­ger to be part of a revamp.

De­spite the hopes of Manch­ester United and Chelsea, an im­proved City would re­main by far the big­gest threat to Liver­pool. Whether such news would as­sist City’s Cham­pi­ons League prospects is im­pos­si­ble to de­ter­mine but it would be a sig­nif­i­cant boost and only im­prove squad morale. It could also se­verely re­duce or even end the prospects of heavy sanc­tions from the Pre­mier League.

The big­gest losers would be Uefa. A City vic­tory could deal last­ing dam­age to the cred­i­bil­ity of its FFP rules and un­der­mine its stand­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.