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What does Manchester City's European ban actually mean?

Manchester City

Manchester City have been banned from European competition for two seasons after being found guilty of breaching UEFA's club licensing and financial fair play regulations.

The Premier League champions have also been hit with a £25m fine, although the club have announced that they intend to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

According to the Adjudicatory Chamber of the Club Financial Control Body, City overstated sponsorship revenue in the accounts submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016, and then "failed to cooperate in the investigation".

“The Adjudicatory Chamber has imposed disciplinary measures on Manchester City Football Club directing that it shall be excluded from participation in UEFA club competitions in the next two seasons (ie: the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons) and pay a fine of 30 million euros," read a statement from European football's governing body.

Many observers were surprised by the severity of the punishment, although La Liga president Javier Tebas praised UEFA for taking "decisive action".

Unsurprisingly, City hit out at what they described as a "prejudicial process" and announced their intention to have the ban overturned.

"Manchester City is disappointed but not surprised by today’s announcement by the UEFA Adjudicatory Chamber," read a club statement. "The club has always anticipated the ultimate need to seek out an independent body and process to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence in support of its position."

However, their case could be harmed by the fact that CAS procedural rules do not exclude evidence "obtained by illegal means", which means City will struggle to argue that evidence obtained from Football Leaks' hacking is inadmissable.

Further reports suggest that City could also be hit with a Premier League points deduction, as England's top flight employs similar regulations to UEFA.

As things stand, Pep Guardiola's side face the prospect of being absent from the Champions League and Europa League until the 2022/23 campaign.

City will be confident of having the ban reduced on appeal, but the uncertainty could affect Guardiola's future at the Etihad Stadium.

The Catalan is under contract in summer 2021 but could be tempted to depart before then if City are absent from European competition.

Meanwhile, the Premier League's fifth-place finishers will qualify for the Champions League if CAS upholds UEFA's verdict and denies City a spot in the tournament.

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