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Calum Atkinson
Calum Atkinson

21:47 13 Jul 2020


Football journalist Miguel Delaney joined Off The Ball to discuss the decision to overturn Manchester City's ban from the Champions League and its wider implications for football.

City’s two-year ban from European football was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The €30 million fine issued by UEFA in February was also reduced to €10 million.

“The decision basically preserves Manchester City’s status as one of the superpowers of the game,” Delaney said.

“I wouldn’t say it's a complete exoneration for City. They’ve had a sanction, there's also a 10 million fine for obstructing the investigation but they've got their two main objectives. 

“They’re still in the Champions League and there’s no guilty verdict so there’s no reputational damage in that regard.”

As for UEFA, Delaney thinks it makes them look “toothless”.

“There were also two previous cases, PSG and AC Milan where UEFA were not able to fully apply their own punishment either.”

Many have reacted to the decision by saying it is essentially the end of Financial Fair Play but Delaney was not as definitive.

“The case wasn’t specifically about FFP but a lot of people in UEFA saw it as a proxy war about essentially that,” Delaney said.

“This is essentially driving a truck through the spirit of the rules, getting sanctioned, getting a fine and yet still not getting a ban from the Champions League.”

The CAS decision is also very significant for Manchester City because if it had been upheld, players may have left the club according to Delaney.

“A lot of that squad are at their prime or coming into their prime as players. They’re not going to want to spend two years of that outside the Champions League. 

“In the case of [Kevin] De Bruyne there was a feeling that he might look to move if they weren’t in the Champions League.

“It would have gone further than that because not only would those players want to leave, they’d have to replace them.”

Manchester City

But Monday’s decision will now have the opposite effect, according to Delaney.

“Now we have the complete opposite of that. They’re emboldened to go and improve the squad in the way they wanted.

“I think City will go out this summer and immediately buy a top-class centre-half.

“Maybe someone like Kalidou Koulibaly for £ 80 or £ 90 million, probably a left-back and a wing forward as well.”

Delaney explained that he has sympathy for the situation UEFA find themselves in.

“They’re caught in a multi-angled power battle. On one side you have the old money clubs some of whom were very interested in City being punished. On the other side you have this new power base which is basically state-run clubs.

“With all this money being concentrated in these very small corners of the game, you have this complete distortion of football as we know it and really an erosion of competitive balance. 

“That’s something that UEFA are very conscious of but have been able to do little about.”

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