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Champions League: Guardiola's Man City face UEFA ban threat


UEFA has got Manchester City very worried indeed, with the club facing the threat of expulsion from the Champions League for breaching 'financial fair play' rules. Paris Saint-Germain, who are the subject of the same suspicions, are another such case. City are owned by Emirati royals and are throwing around sums of money that are clearly higher than the amounts they should reasonably be expected to generate within their industry. Indeed, according to information uncovered by the website Football Leaks, the Premier League champions have pocketed 2.7 billion euros from inflated sponsorship deals coming from ADUG, the same investment fund through which Sheikh Mansour bought the club in 2008.

City under Pep: 608m spent on players, 180m brought in from sales

With that kind of cash injection, City have a clear advantage over clubs who only live off what the market yields. One need only look at the fact that, since appointing Pep Guardiola, they have spent 608 million on new signings and have banked just 180 million from player sales. That's before we even get to a wage bill that outstrips those of clubs who, like Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid, operate off what they can make from transfers, TV revenue, marketing and gate receipts. It's a situation that LaLiga president Javier Tebas has been vocally complaining about, so much so that he has become something of a figurehead for a battle which, at the end of the day, is one that concerns every conventionally run club in Europe.

Guardiola celebrates winning a second straight Premier League title with City at the weekend.
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Guardiola celebrates winning a second straight Premier League title with City at the weekend.Nick Potts/PA Wire/dpa

Meanwhile, this is an issue that also serves to remind us of something we sometimes lose sight of: that the 'Guardiola formula' only works with good players. He is certainly a wonderful coach whose contribution to the game has been huge; but you're going to make any brand of play work better if you've got Xavi Hernández, Andrés Iniesta and Lionel Messi or, failing that, all the players a bottomless pit of moolah can buy. Football hinges on its footballers, and the biggest talents are more and more expensive. External injections of money inflate the market (just look at how prices have skyrocketed recently) and, by making it dependent on the whims of potentially transitory investors, put it in danger.