A big win for City and Guardiola

This is undoubtedly one of Manchester City’s biggest results of the season so far.
If the initial two-year ban handed down by UEFA was upheld, or even reduced to one year, then there was a fear that several top players, including Kevin De Bruyne, may leave. There were also questions over Pep Guardiola’s future at the club, with his current deal set to expire at the end of the 2020/21 season.
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The guarantee of Champions League football should ensure City keep hold of their star names and it also increases the chances of Guardiola extending his stay, which he has suggested he is open to doing.

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It also means the club can go full-steam ahead with their summer transfer plans as they try to regain their Premier League title from Liverpool.
Guardiola has said it's time to "rebuild" and a new centre-back is expected to be top of the shopping list, while there may also be other additions to replace the departing David Silva and Leroy Sane.

Where now for FFP?

When FFP was introduced at the start of the 2011/12 season it was intended to prevent clubs from spending more than they earned, to make them live within their means, and to punish those who didn’t abide by the rules.
But there have always been concerns about whether it would actually be enforced. Arsene Wenger has expressed his doubts at various stages over the last decade.
In 2011 when City signed a £350m sponsorship deal with Etihad Airways – owned by Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the half brother of Manchester City owner Sheik Mansour – Wenger was among those to question FFP.
It raises the real question about the credibility of Financial Fair Play. They give us the message that they can get around it by doing what they want.
In 2015, as a number of Premier League clubs outspent Arsenal, he said about FFP: “It has gone. I have seen the signs coming from UEFA for a while now. I thought for a while FFP would happen but now it is not possible.”
There have been some sanctions: City and Paris Saint-Germain were both fined £60m and had their squad size reduced and transfer net spending capped after breaching rules in 2014, while AC Milan were banned from Europe this season.
But the same trio have also all overturned UEFA punishments, with cases against PSG and City both damaged by time regulations. PSG's case collapsed because a deadline was not met and UEFA said City's apparent "breaches were time-barred due to the five-year time period foreseen in the UEFA regulations".
This verdict is unlikely to mark the end of FFP, but it should certainly force UEFA into rethinking and reassessing the regulations.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

Image credit: Getty Images

The battle for fourth hots up

If Manchester City are the big winners then one of Chelsea, Leicester and Manchester United will be the big losers.
The ruling by CAS means that only the top four in the Premier League will qualify for the Champions League next season, and fifth place, which could have qualified if City were banned, will make the Europa League.
Liverpool and City have the top two spots secured, so it looks like it’s between Chelsea, Leicester and United for third and fourth.
Brendan Rodgers' side looked to have third almost wrapped up a few months ago, but have won just one game since the restart and imploded in spectacular fashion against Bournemouth on Sunday.
They have slipped to fourth, one point behind Chelsea, and one point ahead of United, who threw away the chance to go third when Southampton levelled late on at Old Trafford on Monday.
Wolves in sixth are five points behind Chelsea but may have an outside shot, particularly as the final day throws up these two fixtures: Chelsea v Wolves and Leicester v Manchester United.
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