Ex-Watford and Blackburn shot stopper Rich Lee thinks if upheld, Manchester City’s ban from European competition could have serious long term consequences.
After allegedly misleading UEFA and breaching financial fair play regulations, UEFA have imposed a ban on Manchester City participating in any form of European competition for the next two seasons.
Man City have launched a staunch defence of their actions, dubbing the UEFA investigation ‘prejudicial’ and have had their appeal against the verdict registered by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
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The ruling does not impose an immediate ban on participation in this year’s Champions League, meaning Man City will gear up to take on Real Madrid tonight in the first leg of their last-16 clash against the competition's most successful side.
Though the sense of injustice could very well fuel the City players on to a memorable victory at the Santiago Bernabéu, the prospect of two seasons without Champions League football- even if they win the whole thing- could spell serious danger as the club aim to cement their status as one of European football’s powerhouses.
Speaking on Love Sport Breakfast, Former Premier League 'keeper Rich Lee thinks the ban could damage the reigning Champions of England’s future ambitions, and that they should go all out to secure a Champions League title before the ban is enforced.
”They’re not going to win the Premier League obviously, and actually if the ban is upheld and they’re not going to play Champions League football in the next two seasons, it’s all about this season.
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”There’s so much added pressure that if they don’t win it this season, there’s a chance they might lose a few of their players over the next couple of years because of course they want to be playing Champions League football.
“It could put City back five years before they next seriously compete in the Champions League, so I just think if you’re Pep Guardiola, you’ve got that realisation that it’s now or never.
”I’m worried for Man City next season regardless, but I think this season if they’re going to win the Champions League, if it’s not this season they could be waiting five years plus.”
The potential ban has also sparked widespread rumours over where Pep Guardiola’s future lies. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss has not stayed in any of his previous roles for longer than four seasons; will the lack of Champions League football at The Etihad lead him to be tempted by pastures new?
Rich Lee revealed he thinks a Champions League win this year would be a fitting end for Pep’s time in Manchester: “If they win the Champions League, I think he moves aside - I think he might move aside anyway - but I think he moves aside.
”Then in terms of a legacy as to what he’s done at Man City; to win the league in the two seasons they did by the margin they did is a massive tick of course, the other competitions they’ve won are great but then to top it off with a Champions League and sail off into the sunset, I think that’s his job done.”
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