Friday , March 24 2023

Manchester City may lose Aguero, Sterling, De Bruyne and other big-name stars following two-year Champions League ban

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Manchester City may lose Aguero, Sterling, De Bruyne and other big-name stars following two-year Champions League ban

The best players want to be in the Champions League including the likes of Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne

This ban has been a long time coming for Manchester City.

But UEFA, European football’s governing body, have had enough and feel the only way to hurt mega-rich City is to kick them out of the Champions League.

They have tried warnings, fines and settlements in the past but to take them off football’s greatest stage is the only way to show they really mean business when it comes to Financial Fair Play.

Fines mean nothing because even tens of millions are a mere drop in the ocean to City’s mega wealthy owners.

It was back in December 2018 when, at the Nations League draw in Dublin, senior UEFA officials began to make real noises about a Champions League ban being the only punishment that would make City sit up and take notice.

A senior UEFA source said at the time that “sporting sanctions” would need to follow, not least because the “integrity of UEFA” was at stake.

City even referred to those whispers in their statement on Friday night, saying the punishment had been “publicly previewed” in delivering the “outcome and sanction intended to be delivered.”

And now UEFA have made their mark. At the heart of the accusations was about inflated sponsorship deals.

Among the revelations made by the whistle blower Football Leaks was a claim that City’s holding company paid £59.5million of Etihad’s annual sponsorship deal, with only £8m coming from the airline.

L-R) Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling will all want to play Champions League football

It was complex, incredibly difficult to understand and one that City had hoped had gone away once they City paid a £49m fine and had their squad capped for failing FFP rules six years ago.

But the whole story blew up again with the Football Leaks revelations and has been rumbling with briefings and counter briefings. And the reality was that it never went away.

Time and again, big figures in football, such as La Liga president Javier Tebas, have been outspoken against City insisting they had cheated and serious punishments must be imposed.

Now they have got their wish.

Leaks that City had got away with it and escaped a ban probably did not help their case, only inflaming the situation with UEFA and angering the likes of Tebas who was determined that it should be a ban rather than a fine.

Now it is devastating. This is worse than any financial penalty. And that has to be the point. The only way that FFP can be taken seriously and the only way that City will take notice.

The best players want to be in the Champions League. Players like Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne.

What effect will it have on Pep Guardiola’s future?

Will the players get their Champions League bonuses? Will they be happy to stay around?

For City, it was always about winning the Champions League. That was the dream. The dream of being a European superpower. Now they are not even in it for the next two years.

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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