|Lausanne in Switzerland where lawyers are pleading the innocence of Manchester City. Photo Lausanne Tourism Board.|
I’ve never been to Lausanne in Switzerland, and it’s highly unlikely that I ever will.
Located on the banks of Lake Geneva in the French-speaking region of Vaud, Lausanne sure does look pretty.
It has a 12th-century gothic cathedral and, according to Wikipedia, has medieval streets and once served as a refuge for European artists.
It is also the home of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) where, over the past few days, lawyers for Manchester City, have been pleading their innocence and contesting a heavy fine and two-year ban from all European competitions given to the club by UEDA due to "serious breaches" of Financial Fair Play regulations.
At the time of writing this column, the hearing will be entering its final day, but whatever happens in Switzerland, the outcome will not be revealed immediately.
Financial Fair Play regulations were brought into football to even the playing field and stop clubs spending more than they earn in search of glory.
City are alleged to have over-egged their sponsorship payments which has been deemed a breach of the regulations.
As they are owned by one of the richest men in the world, the fine isn’t really the issue. What matter most is the two-year ban from Champions League football.
This is the trophy the club, its supporters and manager Pep Guardiola crave more than anything, and being unable to play in Europe’s elite competition could have some serious ramifications.
On the whole, footballers are not exactly loyal. Most will go to whichever club offers them more money and with no Champions League football to play, there could well be a mass exodus at the Etihad.
Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, and many others from their star-studded squad may be tempted to seek pastures new if they want to play Champions League football.
If the ban is upheld, then Sergio Aguero would be pushing 35 years old when he can play for City again in Europe if he decides to stick it out in Manchester.
Guardiola, to be fair, has said he will honour his contract and I hope he does because is one of the best managers in the world, but two years unable to play Champions League football? That’s a big ask for Pep.
There are three possible outcomes for the appeal hearing.
- CAS agree with UEFA that there were "serious breaches" of FFP regulations and that City's ban and fine stands.
- UEFA’s sanctions are reduced, which could still see City banned albeit for a shorter period of time.
- City win their appeal.
If they do lose, there is still a further route of appeal but that would take time, and would unlikely be heard until 2021 when of course the ban will already be in place.
They also face the prospect of, if banned from the Champions League, losing a massive amount of revenue for television rights. And also they could still be in hot water with the Premier League who are waiting to learn the outcome of this hearing before deciding what action to take themselves.
All in all, this is an extremely testing time for Manchester City and all eyes will be on Lausanne as the club wait patiently for the verdict.
I don’t want to see them banned from Europe. They have amazing players and a brilliant manager who should be allowed to compete with the world’s best.
But if they have broken the rules then they should be punished and it’s clear that punishment will be very, very costly to one of the world’s richest football clubs. — VNS