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MANCHESTER CITY CRISIS Q&A: Can City really hold on to top stars with no Champions League football?

Manchester City were rocked by the news on Friday that they have been banned by UEFA from European competition for two seasons. 

The decision comes on the back of an investigation that deemed City to have falsely inflated their commercial revenues in order to comply with the body’s Financial Fair Play rules. 

The club are now facing up to the reality of what a suspension from playing in the Champions League could do for its status and the damage it could cause to the long-term Abu Dhabi masterplan.  

Here, Sportsmail takes a look through the main questions, to get a guage on just how bad things are for Pep Guardiola and Co, and whether it could yet get worse.  

Pep Guardiola could see his team ripped apart after Manchester City were hit with a UEFA ban

So, what has happened?

On Friday evening, UEFA released a statement confirming that their Club Financial Control Body had deemed Manchester City to have committed ‘serious breaches’ of their Financial Fair Play rulings. As a result, they’ve decided to bar the reigning Premier League champions from entry into European competitions for the next two seasons. Oh, and they also fined them €30million (£25m) while they were at it. 

That’s a hefty punishment, what did they do?

Well, according to UEFA’s exhaustive investigation, the club were caught out overstating their sponsorship revenue to make it appear that they were breaking even and thus adhering to the FFP rules. This decision was made using the accounts submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016.

What didn’t help matters was City’s attitude towards the whole process. UEFA pointed the finger squarely at the club, stating they had ‘failed to cooperate’ with the investigation. Not a good look for the club or its Emirati owners.

Sheikh Mansour (right) has seen his club's practices challenged over their financial dealings

Sheikh Mansour (right) has seen his club’s practices challenged over their financial dealings

So it’s safe to say City aren’t happy then? 

Not in the slightest. They released a statement of their own attacking UEFA’s Chief Investigator Yves Leterme and suggesting he was behind the leaks that have signposted the decision that has now been made public. 

They have, as was to be expected, confirmed they will be appealing the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. A final decision from them could yet be months away, and even then City won’t be done.

Should they not receive an answer they like from CAS, they could take it to the Swiss Supreme Court, or the European Commission. This could run and run.  

Are the players happy to wait and find out? 

Raheem Sterling has already come out and publicly committed his future to City, no matter the outcome. But there hasn’t been many following the England international. 

Undoubtedly though, even if players do genuinely want to stay, that decision might not be their’s to make. The revenue the club would lose from not playing Champions League football, estimated to be close to £170m, will have to replenished from some where.

Player sales would be the most likely source.  And there are more than enough suitors out there for the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Sterling.  

Raheem Sterling has already committed himself to staying at City despite the sanctions

Raheem Sterling has already committed himself to staying at City despite the sanctions

So if City aren’t in the Champions League, then who is? 

This, we don’t know. There is a suggestion that whoever finishes fifth may take the final coveted Champions League spot if City are barred, but it’s a lot more complicated than that. 

The amount of time the process will take makes it unlikely that City’s position will be known by the time the Premier League has to register applications for teams to compete in European competitions next summer. There is even a chance that, with the likelihood of an appeals process dragging on, City’s ban may even be held back a year.

A ban would certainly aid the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United long term, but this season fifth looks unlikely to get you anything other than a Europa League ticket.  

With City unable to qualify for Europe, there is a glimmer of hope for the likes of Arsenal

With City unable to qualify for Europe, there is a glimmer of hope for the likes of Arsenal

What do the Premier League make of it all?

Ah yes, well this is where it could get a bit messy for City. 

The Premier League launched their own investigation in March last year, and have been looking into City’s financial situation for almost a year now.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if they waited for the outcome of City’s tussle with UEFA before dishing out their own sanctions – which could be sizeable. 

What was a huge blow of losing Champions League football and revenue could now be compounded by severe punishment from England’s top flight, too.  

They couldn’t lose titles… could they? 

It’s certainly possible. 

In the Premier League’s handbook their is a section dedicated to disciplinary proceedings. Due to the size of City’s misdemeanour, it will certainly be handed to an independent judicial panel to clear up. What will worry City is that their powers appear limitless.

They have the ability to hand down unlimited fines, points deductions and they are capable of stripping teams of titles. There isn’t anything to say they cannot do it historically either, so each of City’s titles during that period of scrutiny could be under threat. 

What is not clear is whether those titles would then be awarded to the team that finished second. In Italy, following the 2006 Calciopoli scandal, Juventus were stripped of their 2005 title, but it was never awarded to anyone else. 

Whether the Premier League would follow suit would remain to be seen.  

There is the possibility that City could find themselves stripped of their Premier League titles

There is the possibility that City could find themselves stripped of their Premier League titles