Manchester City have been banned from European competitions for the next two seasons.
The Citizens were found to have breached Financial Fair Play rules and will therefore be absent from the Champions League or Europa League for the 2020/21 and 2021/22 campaigns.
However, there is one huge caveat surrounding the news and it’s the fact that City have confirmed in a statement that they will appeal the resolution in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
But hold that thought. Here at GIVEMESPORT, we’ve decided to dust off our crystal ball and try to imagine how the world of football would look if City’s two-year ban from Europe is truly upheld.
Such is the unpredictable nature of football that there’s no way of telling for sure, but here are the 10 things that we think will happen on the assumption the Citizens fail in their attempts to appeal:
- Man City crash out against Real Madrid
You could argue that City’s ban will give them an extra fire to win their first Champions League title in their final attempt for three years, but we’re convinced it will only add more and more pressure.
Combine that with the fact City are playing against Zinedine Zidane’s Real – a combination that has won the competition every single time time – and you have yourself a recipe for disaster.
We’re predicting them to lose comfortably at the Bernabeu, maybe 3-1 or something similar, and bow out of the competition in front of their own fans with a brave, albeit insufficient, 1-0 win.
- Leroy Sane leaves this summer
Some supporters are getting ahead of themselves by suggesting they’ll be a mass exodus at the Etihad Stadium, but only a select few players will see this as the right point to leave.
Sane is the one we can be almost certain about. The German was linked to Bayern Munich all summer long and now any doubts in his mind can be dispelled by the prospect of two years away from Europe.
You can expect the Citizens to mount little in the way of a defence and they’ll welcome the hefty transfer fee, probably in the region of £90-100million, with open arms to help cover their fine.
- Pep Guardiola will leave… in 2021
As much as rival fans like to think Guardiola will jump ship this summer, the Catalan is pretty loyal when it comes to contracts and he even floated the idea of signing a new deal in November.
So, yes, it looks as though expulsion from the Champions League will encourage Guardiola to leave, but we feel confident that he’ll see out his contract just like he did at Bayern Munich.
Plus, there’s more than enough incentive going into the 2020/21 campaign as he’ll look to dethrone Liverpool for a third league title without having to deal with European fixture congestion.
- So will Sergio Aguero
Speaking of people who are out of contract in 2021, there’s also Aguero and UEFA’s ruling has probably sorted out the landscape of his City future so he doesn’t have to.
At 32 years old, it makes sense for the Argentine to throw the kitchen sink at the Champions League one last time this season and then see out his contract with a victory-lap campaign akin to David Silva’s.
Aguero has previously admitted that a move to boyhood club Independiente would become his next priority, but don’t rule out an Atletico Madrid reunion if he’s still feeling fresh in Europe.
- Jose Mourinho will sneak into the Champions League
Sorry Sheffield United, as much as we’d love to see the Blades playing against Real Madrid and Barcelona in mid-week, we believe that Tottenham Hotspur could benefit the most here.
It seems inevitable that City will finish in the top four and consequently, the team in fifth will also be bumped up to the Champions League and Mourinho will be waiting in the wings to pounce.
They’ll move above Chris Wilder’s men if they win their game in hand and if anybody can sneak their way through the backdoor into Europe’s premier competition, you just know it’s the ‘Special One’.
- Sheffield United will qualify for Europe
But fear not Blades fans, news of City’s ban has almost certainly confirmed a dream spot in the Europa League just one year after leaping up from the Championship. You love to see it.
- Everton qualify for the Europa League
City’s ban also has an impact on qualification for the Champions League’s little brother and especially as we’re predicting Guardiola’s men to overcome Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup final.
That means that as low as eighth place in the Premier League could qualify for Europe and we’re expecting Everton to maintain their current trajectory to play on the continent.
- Bidding war ensues for Kevin De Bruyne
Europe’s biggest clubs are going to make the Etihad Stadium their shop window in the absence of Champions League football and the club’s star man De Bruyne will be the headline attraction.
Real Madrid and Juventus could launch bids if they can’t buy Paul Pogba; Barcelona might dip into potential Philippe Coutinho funds and Paris Saint-Germain may chance their arm if Neymar leaves.
However, we think De Bruyne will be encouraged by the extra season under Guardiola that we’re predicting and bask in being the number one at a club as he heads towards his thirties.
- Liverpool STILL win the 2020/21 Premier League
You would think that City would become secret favourites for next year’s Premier League without the burden of playing in Europe. Just like Antonio Conte’s Chelsea of 2016/17, if you will.
There’s just one problem: Liverpool are objectively the greatest team in Premier League history.
As a result, we’re predicting a genuinely close title race unlike this season, but that Jurgen Klopp will be so hellbent on retaining the trophy that Liverpool will still have the edge come May 2021.
- Key players stay for the long run
It’s not going to be all doom and gloom for City, so expect some of their younger players who are getting both decent money and game time to persist through two years in the wilderness.
Raheem Sterling should rightfully see himself as City’s star man in the waiting, so should stick it out and it makes sense for the likes of Ederson, Aymeric Laporte and Rodri to follow suit.
Plus, more inevitable departures like Fernandinho and Silva, as well as a possible drop in transfer activity, should see Phil Foden finally given the first-team opportunities he deserves.
Potential deterrent for other clubs
It’s not all bad for City… but it isn’t great either.
If City are indeed found to have been grossly negligent in the face of FFP rules, then this harsh verdict must be seen as a positive for the sport.
And regardless of whether our 10 predictions come true or not, there are bound to be enough negative consequences to ensure other European clubs try to avoid the same fate.