Manchester City's two-year ban from UEFA competitions could cost the Premier League champions in the region of £250million in lost revenue.
European football's governing body announced on Friday that City would be fined £25m and barred from the Champions League and the Europa League for the next two seasons, on account of "serious breaches" of Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations between 2012-16.
City has already stated their intention to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), meaning a seismic moment for elite club football still has twists and turns to come.
The future of manager Pep Guardiola, along with star players such as Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, is likely to be the most immediate concern for fans, but the balance sheets that have so fascinated UEFA over recent years are also set to take a considerable hit in the event City observe a Champions League exile.
"If you go deep into the latter stages of the Champions League, you're looking at around £100m in TV money and prize money," Dr Dan Plumley – a football finance expert and senior lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University – told Omnisport.
City earned £85.7m on their run to the quarter-finals in 2018-19, with greater riches in prospect if they are able to negotiate a last-16 tie against Real Madrid and go all the way this time around.
"Liverpool earned £110m for winning it," Plumley continued. "So, ballpark, £100m because you'd expect them to progress to the knockout stages at least. That's times two, so there's £200m there."
Taking a sponsorship hit
As well as missing out on UEFA broadcasting revenue and prize money, the modern convention of performance-related clauses being written into sponsorship deals is also likely to hurt City.
"Commercial deals that are in place with things like shirt providers and other partners, a lot of those now have penalty clauses for Champions League qualification for the big teams," Plumley said.
"If City aren’t competing on that stage there will be a reduction in their contracts for that period of time.
"So you're looking at maybe a conservative estimate in the ballpark of a £250m reduction in revenue from not being in the Champions League over two full seasons."
The need to make ends meet and remain in line with FFP for any re-entry to European football means City could be forced to cash in on some of their best players, with opportunistic potential buyers unlikely to be hard to find.
"The lure to the player [to leave] is you're not playing in the Champions League for two seasons. That's clear from a player's perspective," Plumley said.
"One line of that argument is clubs will then look to get a knockdown price. I think what City would do in response is inflate the price – if you want our players, you pay the premium – pushing it the other way.
"It often becomes a power play between the player and the club. I think that will happen naturally if this ban is upheld. It could play out both ways in terms of transfer valuations.
"We also have to factor in the reduction in revenue. If City's revenue drops, do you have to shift on a couple anyway to keep the cash position going? Leroy Sane fits that bill because we were led to believe he wanted to leave last year anyway."
Sheikh Mansour likely to remain
Even if fan favourites from the pitch and the dugout seek pastures new, Plumley does not expect City's Abu Dhabi ownership to be going anywhere soon, even if the CAS appeal goes against their club, due to the breadth and depth of their investment in a unique football project.
"I've not seen any murmurings that Sheikh Mansour would be looking to get out," he explained. "If you look at what the club are doing on a wider scale – in New York, in Australia, in Japan. The City Football Group is now a global brand.
"That will take a hit from the bad press around this, no doubt, but it wouldn't wipe too much off the valuation, other than the figures that we're talking about in terms of loss of revenue.
"They do need to be in the Champions League long-term, let's make no mistakes about that. The likes of Jadon Sancho, for example, want to play in the Champions League. If it's a two-season ban, some of those players might not want to come.
"There are one or two little things around the edges – Pep Guardiola's future, a significant dip in revenue if the ban is upheld – but I don’t think the bigger picture for Manchester City will change too much."
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