UEFA’s Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) announced on Friday that AC Milan was found guilty of breaching financial fail play (FFP) regulations. As a result, the Italian club will be banned from competing in the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League.
AC Milan was previously found guilty by UEFA for violating FFP in 2018, albeit the Rossoneri successfully appealed the decision. This time, however, there will be no second chances.
What does the ruling mean for the Italian Serie A?
Currently, Serie A holds six spots for European competitions: the top four teams automatically qualify for the UEFA Champions League Group Stage whilst the fifth placed team qualifies for the UEFA Europa League Group Stage. The sixth placed team, which is the final Italian team that is eligible for European football, advances to the Europa League qualifiers.
AC Milan finished fifth in the table at the end of the 2018/19 Serie A season. Meanwhile, AS Roma finished sixth whilst Torino finished seventh. With this in mind, the CAS decision means AS Roma will take AC Milan’s place and will advance to the Europa League Group Stage. Torino will compete in the Europa League qualifiers.
Based on the CAS ruling, can Manchester City be next?
The latest developments between Manchester City and UEFA saw the Sky Blues make an appeal to the CAS after UEFA’s Club Financial Control Board opened an investigation in May 2019 to see if City had violated FFP regulations. A verdict is still forthcoming, but given how the CAS ruled on AC Milan, it is possible the Sky Blues May also face a one year ban from Europe.
If this were the case, it is not clear who would claim City’s spot next season. Currently, the English Premier League has seven European spots: the first four clubs automatically qualify for the Champions League Group Stage. The fifth and sixth placed teams advance to the Europa League Group Stage. The seventh placed team competes in the Europe League qualifiers.
Given Manchester City won the 2018/19 EPL title, however, this complicates matters. The simple solution would be to bump up the teams that finished between fifth and eighth, where the fifth placed team would be promoted to the Champions League, sixth and seventh would qualify for the Europa League Group Stage and eighth would advance to the Europa League qualifications.
Another possibility, however, could see an English play-off spot handed over to a different European league. For example, teams such as Ajax or Young Boys won their respective leagues, but based on UEFA’s current format, they are still required to qualify for the Champions League Group stage via the play-offs. A potential City ban from the Champions League could see one of these other European teams qualify directly for the competition.
Overall, the matter is complex. A verdict on Manchester City has not yet been reached, but given what transpired with AC Milan, things do not look good for the Sky Blues.