It was a Valentine’s Day to forget for the blue half of Manchester after it was announced the current Premier League champions had been found guilty of “serious breaches” of UEFA’s club licensing and financial fair play regulations on 14 February.
Consequently, it was revealed that Pep Guardiola’s side would be banned from the Champions League and Europa League until 2023, and that City had been ordered to pay a fine of €30m (£25m). The club has, however, appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in an attempt to overturn the decision.
According to Greater Manchester’s night-time economy adviser Sacha Lord, the impact of UEFA’s decision on the city “cannot be underestimated”.
“We just need to look at Liverpool's run to the Champions League final last year, which brought £479m into the city (4% of the region’s gross value added),” Lord explained. “To understand the effects this decision could have, not only on the city centre and east Manchester, but across the region.
“I recently read a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research that said competing for a league title has the potential to increase a city’s economic growth by 1.1 percentage points.
“The north-west is the most visited region for football tourism – one in 10 tourist visits to our region include a match and, as such, the bars, restaurants, hotels and facilities that rely on football tourism in Manchester will undoubtedly feel the pressure. Hotels will also be affected, as we know occupancy rates of city centre hotels peak on match days (15% higher than average), as local, national and international visitors flood into the city.”
Loss of income and impact on jobs
Lord added that UEFA’s decision could also have repercussions throughout Manchester’s pub and bar trade.
“I worry there will be a downturn in the number of local fans who typically fill our pubs to watch matches, celebrate on our streets and use our infrastructure to travel to and from games,” he added.
“In addition to the loss of income, we have to recognise jobs will be affected – from bar staff, additional hotel staff, or stadium staff usually required on Champions League match nights. It’s a difficult situation and will clearly be a worrying time for the employees.
“As night-time economy adviser, and pending the appeal by Manchester City, I will be working closely with my team to understand how we can counter the full impacts of the move and best support the businesses that could be affected.
“From implementing new opportunities that will draw additional tourism to the city, to working with the Etihad Stadium to continue to promote City Square as a destination on non-match days, there is much we can do to keep momentum and maintain Manchester's position as the capital of football.”
Impact of ‘promoting’ Tottenham or Manchester United
Pep Guardiola’s side topped their Champions League group this season ahead of Italian debutants Atalanta, Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk and Croatia’s Dinamo Zagreb. However, according to sport pub finding app MatchPint’s head of operations Robert Stewart, having a “very easy group” led to significant decreases in demand for City’s European games.
“During this year’s group stages, Man City had a very easy group, and this led to a significant decrease in searches compared to Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea – seeing decreases of between 40 and 50%,” he explained.
“In terms of the on-trade – one of the most ironic impacts of Man City’s potential ban from European competition could let Man United or Tottenham into the Champions League through by finishing fifth.
“We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of people looking for Tottenham matches over the past couple of years, particularly in European competition. This is largely due to their run to last year’s Champions League final, and general involvement in some epic matches.
“Man United, despite their poor performances since Sir Alex Ferguson left, still remain a team with a massive following everywhere – their knockout games last year attracted the most fans on average out of any of the English teams (excluding the final), and saw 2.5 times more fans per game than Man City. Surprisingly, Tottenham also saw 1.6 times more fans per game than Man City.
“This would suggest that if Tottenham or Man United can sneak into the Champions League through finishing fifth, pubs would see a better return in next year’s Champions League.”