England retains 4 Champions League spots despite City ban

England retains 4 Champions League spots despite City ban
Sports Manchester City

Players argue after Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling, right, claimed to have been fouled in the box by Tottenham’s goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, 2nd left, during the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Ian Walton)

LONDON— England is still due to retain four Champions League participants next season regardless of Manchester City’s ban.

City is second in the Premier League but the Abu Dhabi-owned club was barred from European competition for two seasons by UEFA on Friday for masking money flows in an attempt to comply with Financial Fair Play rules.

The Premier League’s top four finishers are guaranteed automatic qualification places for the Champions League group stage that begins in September.

But City being banned does not prevent England taking up its full allocation of places for the elite competition. A country only loses a European spot when it is rejected by a team that has qualified.

“If a club refuses to enter the competition, having qualified for it on sporting merit and obtained a license from the competent national body, no other club from the same association may be entered in its place,” the UEFA regulations state.

But if a club is either excluded or not allowed into the competition by UEFA, then the place goes to the next in line from that country.

That is what happened in Italy this season after AC Milan’s decision to voluntarily remove itself from the Europa League to pay for UEFA FFP breaches.

Milan finished fifth in Serie A last season, missing out on the Champions League places by one point.

It opened the way for Roma to enter the group phase of the Europa League after finishing sixth in Serie A, rather than having to go through qualifying. Torino, which finished seventh, took Roma’s spot in the qualifying rounds.

City is still hoping to overturn its Champions League ban, announcing plans Friday to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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