With everyone’s minds occupied with the coronavirus and its implications for world football, it’s easy to forget that Manchester City are still banned from European competitions.
Back in February, Pep Guardiola’s side were given a two-year suspension alongside a £25 million fine after an investigation into an alleged breach of Financial Fair Play regulations.
City have made it clear from the beginning that they plan to appeal the decision and still hope to play in next season’s Champions League, but of course, COVID-19 is getting in the way.
Because the virus has forced football’s authority figures into self-isolation, it is looking likely that City’s appeal will not be heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in time for next season.
And according to reports, rivals Arsenal are especially keen to make sure that Manchester City won’t be playing in next season’s Champions League if their appeal cannot take place.
As per The Mirror, Manchester City believe that Arsenal instigated an eight-club-strong campaign to convince the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) that they should remain excluded.
Allegedly, Arsenal compelled other Premier League sides to pressurise the CAS by writing to them directly, to argue that City shouldn’t be allowed to compete without a successful appeal.
Alongside the Gunners, the clubs involved include table-toppers Liverpool, local rivals Manchester United, and other Champions League hopefuls like Chelsea, Leicester and Wolves.
Arsenal have not yet commented on whether they instigated this move against City, and The Mirror understands that they will deny such involvement if they are asked directly about the matter.
It’s a difficult situation for all involved at Manchester City, and only time will tell how this particular dispute with Arsenal, or the European competition ban in general will be resolved.
One common-sense option for Pep Guardiola’s side would be to ask the CAS whether the ban could be suspended for a year, to enable them to play in next season’s Champions League.
But given that every team all the way down to 10th are mathematically in reach of the vital fourth placed-spot, we suspect that the other clubs won’t let that happen without a fight.
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