By Andrew Warshaw
March 26 – Premier League rivals of Manchester city have reportedly ganged up to try and stop the club getting their European ban put on ice in order to be allowed to play in next season’s Champions League.
City are currently awaiting the result of their appeal against a two-year ban from European competition, handed down by UEFA in February, along with a €30 million fine, for “serious breaches” of Financial Fair Play rules.
The stunning verdict, harsher than most experts had predicted, will not affect City’s participation in the remainder of this season’s tournament – if it continues – but, if upheld, threatens to seriously undermine the club’s status, built up with United Arab Emirates money over the last few years, as one of the most powerful names in European football.
The Premier League champions, second behind Liverpool in the current table, have denied any wrongdoing and have launched an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
But England’s Daily Mail newspaper reports that eight of the Premier League’s current top 10 – all except Sheffield United and City themselves – have submitted a counter joint application to CAS to stop City gaining a stay of execution.
The eight are Liverpool, Leicester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Burnley.
In an unprecedented move, the clubs are objecting to the possibility of City requesting the ban be suspended whilst their appeal process is ongoing.
“The feeling is that enough is enough,” the paper quoted an unnamed source.
“For too long, City have been able to get away with breaching the rules at the expense of at least one other club that has been unable to get into the Champions League.”
The Champions League is the one trophy City crave more than any others having already won the Premier League twice under Pep Guardiola, and have a 2-1 lead over Real Madrid after the first leg of the last 16 which was cut short by the Covid-19 outbreak. Uefa have so far made no decision as to if and when the tournament will resume.
“The fear is that they will be able to delay any punishment and – should they win the appeal – get off scot-free, which would be outrageous,” said the Daily Mail’s source.
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