With Manchester City winning the last two editions of the Premier League, many pundits and punters alike would have marked them down as favourites to make it a threepeat of successes this season.
However, as we know Liverpool have been the dominant force as far as English football is concerned and although Pep Guardiola’s men have done their best to mount something in the way of a challenge, it has been a rather forgettable league campaign.
Of course, the focus of City’s attention has been off the pitch as of late and with the news that UEFA have handed them a two year ban from the Champions League, it is fair to say that the Etihad outfit are in something of a state of flux.
While it is a situation that has only become more confusing due to the Coronavirus pandemic that has plunged the sporting world into darkness and with no-one knowing when the season will resume, it does cast a huge cloud over the defending Premier League champions.
That’s because if this current season does not go ahead and reach the completion that many are hoping for, Manchester City will be in something of a state of limbo and one where they could look to have their UEFA suspension pushed back by twelve months.
The reason being that if the ban is upheld and the 2019/20 season is concluded, then it would be pretty much business as expected and City would sit out the first of two years away from Europe’s premier club competition.
However, if the 2019/20 season is scrapped and the reset button is hit, Manchester City’s lawyers will deem it somewhat unfair that they would have to go straight into a period of continental inactivity.
This could mean that the club’s lawyers could look for at least a period of twelve months grace before any punishment is handed out and that might also be a scenario that is beneficial to UEFA at the same time.
That’s because if they 2020/21 season takes the guise of the edition before it, City will have been rightful qualifiers to the Champions League once again and to remove them, would only cause something of a headache.
If we are to assume that all things must stay equal in the guise of a rebooted season, then to not have City in the Champions League would only damage the integrity of the competition, as they would then have to reorganise all the fellow entrants.
This could cause all number of headaches for UEFA and although they and City can be described as rather strange bedfellows right now, it might mean a marriage of convenience is required in these tough times.
Of course, the club will want to return to action as quick as anyone else, but they perhaps have more at a stake than the likes of Liverpool above them and although the Merseyside outfit are almost champions, they are not there just yet.
While although the current table toppers find themselves a staggering twenty-five-points clear at the top, Pep Guardiola will be able to point to the fact that his players still have the slightest odds.
Of course, it would need the biggest collapse in football history for this to be the case, but as long as there is a chance, then there is every right to argue against Liverpool being crowned English league champions for the first time since 1990.
However, there is something of a doubled edged sword and if action does resume, that will only play into UEFA’s hands and hasten the prospect of this season’s Carabao Cup winners going on to serve the punishment that they have been dealt.
While if there is a delay of twelve months, that could be just the timeframe that the club’s legal team are looking for and if they can halt it once, they will be all the more confident of lessening the severity of any punishment.
Which means City must now play the waiting game like everyone else and although they will be desperate to return to action, a lengthy hiatus could end up being the biggest favour of them all. A favour that sees them once again take part in the Champions League.