Manchester City have been rocked by the news that they will be banned from European competition for the next two seasons.
The Premier League champions were found by a UEFA investigation to have committed “serious breaches” of financial regulations.
According to European football’s governing body, City overstated sponsorship revenue in accounts submitted between 2012 and 2016.
As well as a two-year ban from the Champions League and Europa League – starting from next season – CIty have been fined 30million euros (£24.9million).
The decision, which the club will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), will have ramifications way beyond the Etihad Stadium.
Should City fail in their appeal and go on to finish in the Premier League’s top four, as they look certain to do, then the team which finishes fifth will instead go into the Champions League.
Sheffield United are currently sitting in fifth, meaning they would qualify for the Champions League if they remain there until the end of the season.
It also opens the door wider to teams hoping to snatch a place in Europe’s elite competition.
Tottenham are just two points behind Sheffield United in sixth, Everton a point further back while Manchester United and Wolves are four points off fifth spot with 13 games to go.
It also gives Arsenal a glimmer of hope of returning to the Champions League next season, with the Gunners sitting eight points off fifth spot as it stands.
City’s ban will also have an effect on Europa League qualification.
If they win the Carabao Cup – they play Aston Villa in the final next month – and the FA Cup is won by a club which finishes in the top six, then as far as eight spot in the Premier League will be enough to earn Europa League qualification.
City, however, will fight tooth and nail to overturn the ban and will take their challenge to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
“Manchester City is disappointed but not surprised by today’s announcement by the UEFA Adjudicatory Chamber,” read a club statement.
“The club has always anticipated the ultimate need to seek out an independent body and process to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence in support of its position.
“Simply put, this is a case initiated by UEFA, prosecuted by UEFA and judged by UEFA.
“With this prejudicial process now over, the Club will pursue an impartial judgement as quickly as possible and will therefore, in the first instance, commence proceedings with the Court of Arbitration for Sport at the earliest opportunity.”