Manchester City have blown the Premier League’s race for Champions League qualification wide open after they were banned from European club competition for the next two seasons.
City have been handed down the punishment after being found to have committed “serious breaches” of Uefa’s club licensing and financial fair play regulations.
Manchester City say they are “disappointed but not surprised” by the “prejudicial” decision and will appeal.
However, if they fail in that, it means their Champions League spot for finishing in the top four would go to the fifth-placed team in the Premier League this season.
Such a precedent was set by AC Milan in June 2019 when the club voluntarily removed itself from this season’s Europa League due to UEFA financial fair play breaches.
In Pictures | Tottenham vs Man City | 02/02/2020
Milan finished fifth in Serie A the season before, qualifying them for the Europa League, but their withdrawal paved the way for sixth-placed Roma to take their spot in the group stages.
Torino, who finished seventh, took Roma’s spot in the qualifying rounds.
The same is now expected to happen in the Premier League, meaning the fifth-placed side would get City’s Champions League spot – provided the club does not tumble out of the top four.
That means newly-promoted Sheffield United are currently sitting in a Champions League spot for next season.
They, however, are just two points ahead of Tottenham in sixth, four ahead of Manchester United and even Arsenal in 10th are only eight points off them.
In Pictures | Man City vs Man Utd | 29/01/20
It means there is likely to be an almighty scramble for a fifth-place finish and a spot in next season’s Champions League.
Manchester City are also in the final of the Carabao Cup and their involvement in that could have ramifications for the Premier League too.
If City beat Aston Villa in the final – and the FA Cup is won by a side already assured of European football next season – then eighth place in the Premier League would qualify for the Europa League.