Why Manchester City's UEFA punishment has given Sheffield United an extra chance of securing European football

Sheffield United will receive an extra chance to play European football for the first time in their history if Manchester City’s unprecedented two-year European ban is upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Chris Wilder manager of Sheffield Utd: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Chris Wilder manager of Sheffield Utd: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

City, United’s Premier League rivals, were last week banned from the Champions League and Europa League for two seasons, and fined just under £25m, after UEFA found they had "committed serious breaches of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations.

City will take their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport [CAS] after UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body found them guilty of falsely inflating their revenue from sponsorship in an attempt to comply with Financial Fair Play (FFP).

UEFA’s Champions League rules state that: “a club which is not admitted to the competition is replaced by the next bestplaced club in the top domestic championship of the same association, provided the new club fulfils the admission criteria.”

Sander Berge of Sheffield United could soon be back in the Champions League - Simon Bellis/Sportimage

So, by those rules, if City’s ban is upheld and Pep Guardiola’s men finish in the top four, the team which ends the current Premier League season in fifth place will qualify for the Champions League.

That will also have a knock-on effect for the Europa League, too. Extra spots in that competition – won by English clubs in two of the last three seasons – would also open up if a club who qualify for the Champions League wins the FA Cup.

City face Aston Villa in the League Cup final next month. A Villa win will see Dean Smith’s men qualify for Europe but a City victory will give United yet another chance of qualifying for European competition for the first time in their long history.

In addition to their appeal, City will have to ask for their punishment to be set aside while it is heard.

In 2014/15, Red Star Belgrade were banned from the Champions League for FFP breaches with second-placed Partizan Belgrade taking their Champions League spot. Cukaricki, who finished fifth in the Serbian League, filled Partizan’s vacant Europa League place – having not initially finished high enough to qualify for Europe.

City said they are "disappointed but not surprised" by UEFA's announcement and will appeal against the punishment to CAS.

"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,” a club statement read.

"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."