Man City's European ban Q&A: What could this mean for the club?

By Simon StoneBBC Sport
Manchester City fan
Manchester City have not finished lower than fourth in the Premier League in the past nine seasons

It is arguably the biggest story in English football this season.

Manchester City have been kicked out of the Champions League until 2022.

City are furious, claim they have effectively been found guilty by a kangaroo court and are promising the fight is not over by any stretch of the imagination.

But for now, they are out, which raises a number of serious questions for the club.

Is it the end for Pep?

What could happen next at Man City after European ban?

Time and time again over the past few weeks, City manager Pep Guardiola has responded to questions about his future by stating his intention to see out his contract with the Blues, which does not expire until 2021.

Yet Guardiola has also consistently expressed his trust in the City hierarchy when they have assured him there was no foundation to the claims being looked into by Uefa's investigatory panel.

Does Guardiola feel let down by this outcome? It is impossible to say.

However, it is fair to assume that after winning back-to-back Premier League titles with staggering points tallies that eclipsed anything that had gone before and, in addition, becoming the first side to win all three domestic trophies in a single season, Guardiola may struggle for motivation.

If City win the Champions League this season, Guardiola could go anyway. Now it is impossible to imagine him staying and, amid persistent rumours of interest from Juventus and the almost certain knowledge any number of alternative challenges will present themselves, Guardiola's City future would seem to hinge on whether the club are successful in their appeal.

What about the players?

Sergio Aguero
Sergio Aguero became Manchester City's all-time highest goal-scorer in November 2017

We already know veteran midfielder David Silva will be leaving at the end of the season. But the number of players whose contracts are due to expire before City will return to the Champions League is a concern.

Striker Sergio Aguero is at the top of that list. His deal expires in 2021. Leroy Sane's deal ends at the same time. John Stones' expires a year later. The same is also true of Nicolas Otamendi.

And what of the plethora of stars who are under contract beyond 2022, such as Kevin de Bruyne, Ederson, Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez?

If Guardiola left, it is easy to see a number of players following suit, which could leave City with a massive rebuilding exercise.

What are the financial implications?

Football finance expert Kieran Maguire, a lecturer at the University of Liverpool, told BBC Radio Manchester: "The financial implications of not playing in the Champions League are very significant.

"Liverpool made more than £100m from winning it last season, they also got bonuses from sponsors - and then the six or seven home matches to get to the final can be worth £5m each. So if you put that all together, Champions League participation can be worth up to £150m for a club. And for a club the size of City, that can be a quarter to a third of their income.

"Playing in the premium European competition is very attractive so this will make it more difficult to recruit players. If you go back 10 years, Manchester City were able to attract players that were good enough.

"But there's an issue if the income is going to fall by £100m-£150m a year. While the owners have that money, they are in a catch-22 situation where if City are going to spend the money to recruit players they could fall foul of financial fair play rules again."

Could the Premier League take action?

Uefa's decision is not the only problem facing City just now. The Premier League is also looking closely at the situation and deciding what to do next.

Although the two bodies have different financial fair play rules, they are close enough for there to be a belief that if City have transgressed Uefa's regulations, they have done so with the Premier League too.

Should the league decide to bring a charge, a points deduction cannot be ruled out.

The tricky bit is what the Premier League does now. In theory, it can bring a case. Equally, it may decide it is better to wait until any appeal has been heard by CAS, so it would have a better idea of the likelihood of success.

It is a fascinating situation and one the Premier League clubs have been discussing privately for a while now.

What about their European status?

Manchester City are in their ninth successive Champions League campaign. Of England's clubs, Tottenham are on the next longest current consecutive run - with four seasons. That underlines that qualification should not be taken for granted, but also that City shouldn't be affected too much by missing out for a couple of seasons.

Liverpool have reached the past two finals but weren't even in the competition during the 2016-17 campaign, which shows how quickly situations can change.

Maybe the biggest difficulty will be the loss of the chance to earn coefficient points. From their current sixth spot in the Uefa rankings, City are likely to drop out of the top 20 if they did not play European football for a couple of seasons.

That means even when they get back, City will be a lower seed and could find it harder to reach the latter stages of the competition.

Is this the end of an era?

Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour (left) and chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak
Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour (left) and chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak took charge of the club in 2008

If this outcome sees the end of Guardiola's time at City, then it marks the end of an era.

Yet eras come and go in football. Whenever Guardiola goes, City would have had a rebuilding job to do and that will not change, even if signing players might be slightly more difficult.

The bigger issue is the damage to City's reputation.

Ever since the badly handled dismissal of Mark Hughes in 2009, City have prided themselves on doing things the right way. They believe, with some justification, they have a good reputation.

If this verdict sticks, it will undermine all the good work they have done.

They will have been seen to have cheated their way to trophies and, in the process, to have damaged the reputations of owner Sheikh Mansour and chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak. If that proves to be the case, the consequences will be fascinating.

What have they done?

In effect, concealed a number of payments. These were either made to individuals or to inflate sponsorship deals, which allowed the club to meet financial fair play regulations.

They were brought into the public domain by the Football Leaks organisation, who distributed thousands of confidential emails to the German magazine Der Spiegel.

City alleged they had been the victim of an illegal hack by people who had the express intention of damaging their reputation. They also said the emails were being used as the basis for reports which were being taken out of context. That is still their stance.

Is the race for the top four now a race for the top five?

Heading into this weekend's games, Chelsea had a two-point advantage over Sheffield United in the battle for the fourth Champions League place.

It is not entirely clear what will happen if City are excluded but if Uefa decide to retain England's four spots and the team in fifth gets the spare one, a fascinating battle will be in process.

From Sheffield United in fifth to Crystal Palace in 14th, there are just nine points separating 10 teams. From looking to have no chance of getting back into the Champions League, Arsenal will be back in with a shot.