Harry Kane has warned his Tottenham team-mates that anything less than six points from their remaining two matches will likely result in them missing out on European football next term.

Spurs claimed a 3-1 win at Newcastle United on Wednesday to move them up to seventh, which would be high enough to secure a spot in next season's Europa League, assuming the FA Cup is won by a team already certain of European qualification.

Sheffield United could move back above Spurs when they play their game in hand on Thursday, though their opponents – Leicester City – are also in the mix, meaning at least one European hopeful will drop points.

With the Premier League then heading into its final two rounds of matchdays, Jose Mourinho will hope Spurs are primed to take full advantage of any slip-ups – particularly given Champions League qualification is still a remote possibility.

And Kane has told his colleagues they must assume anything other than two wins against Leicester and Crystal Palace will see them fail.

"[Beating Newcastle] was a massive win," he told the Spurs website. "We said before, 'Three games, it has to be three wins if we want to be in with a shout of reaching the Europa League.'

"Arsenal was a big win for us and that gave us momentum coming into these final three games. Every game is tough, and it's been an up-and-down season for us, especially our away form, so we knew it was important to get the three points and thankfully we did.

"Now, some of the teams around us have to play each other, so we'd imagine two more wins and we should be in the Europa League places, but we can only take care of ourselves and see what happens. It's a massive game on Sunday [against Leicester] now."

Kane scored twice in the win at Newcastle to reach 201 career goals at club level and, while he insisted it is not something he will dwell on, he did acknowledge it felt good to receive recognition for remaining consistent despite having some injury issues in recent seasons.

"It's a nice milestone to hit but as always when I'm told about these milestones, it's always on to the next 100 or 200," he added. "It's gone quickly – I've been a professional now for eight or nine years and it just flies by.

"In the last couple of years I've had a few injuries as well, and they've kept me out of quite a lot of games. [Scoring 20 goals per season] is a nice, consistent level I'd like to keep at and I'm happy to do it again this season. Two more games to go, let's see how many more we can get."

Jose Mourinho appeared to take aim at Pep Guardiola and Manchester City over their Financial Fair Play (FFP) dispute as he bristled at a question regarding his Tottenham team selection.

Mourinho oversaw Spurs' 3-1 win at Newcastle United on Wednesday, with Harry Kane on the scoresheet twice – passing 200 club career goals – as the London outfit boosted their hopes of European qualification.

But even after victory – Mourinho's first in the Premier League at St James' Park – the head coach's focus did not seem to stray far from the result of City's appeal this week.

Guardiola's side were initially banned from European competition for two years by UEFA but successfully appealed against that punishment at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Mourinho called the outcome "a disgraceful decision" and again made reference to FFP following the game on Tyneside, going slightly off piste as he discussed his line-up.

Asked about Steven Bergwijn's role as a substitute, Mourinho replied: "You do this question to me but not to [Frank] Lampard, to [Jurgen] Klopp, to Pep.

"Lampard plays [Christian] Pulisic, you don't ask him why he doesn't start [Callum] Hudson-Odoi. Pep leaves Bernardo on bench, you don't ask why he doesn't start Bernardo Silva.

"I'm the only guy who doesn't have the right to play certain players. If Bergwijn started, you'd be asking me why Lucas [Moura] didn't start.

"You don't ask [Wolves boss] Nuno [Espirito Santo] why he leaves [Adama] Traore on the bench. [Bergwijn] is a team player, he plays for Tottenham."

It was put to Mourinho that he would be pleased by Bergwijn's impact from the bench, prompting his reply: "It is credibility for the players and for the group.

"We need good players and more than 11. We need a good group of players. And if we can do that without breaking FFP, we'll do even better."

Mourinho was cheerier as he discussed the end of his St James' Park hoodoo, halting a run of seven games as a visiting manager in the league without victory.

"It's special for us as we needed these three points," he said. "For me, it's a good feeling.

"I'm very happy for the team and finally I can leave the stadium and look at the statue of [former mentor] Bobby Robson and smile at him."

Mikel Arteta acknowledged it will be a "massive blow" if Arsenal miss out on playing European football next season. 

Arsenal surrendered the lead to lose Sunday's north London derby 2-1 to Tottenham, a result that leaves them ninth in the Premier League table with only three matches remaining. 

They are still in the FA Cup, meaning they could qualify for the Europa League via that route, though it remains a distinct possibility that next term will see the club not play in European competition for the first time since the 1995-96 campaign. 

Arteta believes the increased strength of the league has played a part in the Gunners' struggles to qualify through the league, while he also admitted there is much work to be done inside the club. 

"For everybody [it would be] a massive blow," Arteta, whose side host champions Liverpool on Wednesday, told Sky Sports News.  

"But a lot of things change and a lot of things [need] changing. And a lot of clubs that were always in their history in the Champions League are now not, so we are not the only ones in that situation. 

"It's never in the history of the Premier League that you had seven teams at that level competing for those places. 

"These records are there to break, so it's something that has happened, so obviously we need to know that there is a reason behind it. It's not bad luck, it's not one element or two elements. 

"It's a lot of things that have to be changed in order to accomplish again the level that we want for this football club." 

Arteta has already been busy putting his stamp on the squad since his appointment, with Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah among the graduates of Arsenal's youth academy to see plenty of first-team action.

Several established players could be headed for the exit door but Kieran Tierney – a close-season arrival from Celtic – has flourished since the Premier League's resumption in June, having struggled initially with injuries. 

And Arteta is delighted to see the versatile left-sided defender find his feet. 

"I'm so happy for him," Arteta added. "It's been a difficult period for him since he moved, just trying to adapt to a new club, a new city, with the injuries that he had. 

"His effort, his energy and his willingness is paying off, and it always does long term. 

"So it's a very clear example that if you keep fighting, keep achieving your goals and you work hard and you are always humble and you are always positive and trying to help, things come your way." 

Jose Mourinho has likened UEFA's Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations to VAR after Manchester City successfully appealed a two-year Champions League ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

City were hit with the punishment in February, following an investigation sparked by the Football Leaks revelations of November 2018, with European football's governing body finding the then Premier League champions to have breached FFP rules.

But on Monday, CAS announced City did not disguise equity funding as sponsorship contributions and stated the allegations brought by UEFA were either "not established" or "time-barred" under the organisation's own regulations.

City were fined €10million – down from €30m – for failing to co-operate with UEFA's investigation, but for a club of their wealth that has been seen as a slap on the wrist compared to the initial sanction.

Mourinho and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp criticised the decision to overturn City's ban, while the Tottenham boss urged UEFA to scrap FFP, likening its issues to the inconsistencies prevalent with VAR technology.

"My opinion changed because of the decisions that are made," he told reporters when asked if his feelings towards FFP had altered since his days in charge of a free-spending Chelsea. "Consistency is very important for me.

"I cannot understand a penalty that I saw in Juventus-Atalanta, the handball where [Atalanta coach Gian Piero] Gasperini says he only has one alternative, to cut his players' hands. Then the next day, you have other matches where it is not a penalty.

"I like consistency, clarity. I don't like doubts. I like that when a club buys a player or swaps a player. I don't like when I buy a player for £10million, then two weeks later the seller comes to my club with £10m plus one pound. Everyone knows what is going on.

"This is what disturbs me. It's like VAR, my opinion doesn't change. When a few years ago I said I like the concept - I like the concept.

"What I don't like is the interpretation of it. When I say I think FFP should finish, it's not because I don't agree with the basic principals of the FFP, it's because I don't agree with the circus. So let's open the door of the circus, let people enjoy, come in and go out, stay for the clown show. Let people enjoy freely."

But Mourinho did highlight that football without financial regulation will open the door to owners being without reproach, using the example of Newcastle United, who are reportedly the subject of a takeover bid by a Saudi Arabian-led consortium.

"I don't understand the process, I don't know what is going on. I said a club like Newcastle, without FFP, the owner will be free to do what he wants. Without hiding," he said.

Jose Mourinho blasted the decision to overturn Manchester City's ban from the Champions League as "disgraceful", and one that will mark the end of Financial Fair Play (FFP).

City were banned from UEFA competitions for the next two seasons and fined €30million having been accused of committing "serious breaches" of UEFA's club licensing and FFP regulations.

The Premier League club consistently denied wrongdoing and appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which on Monday ruled in their favour.

City must now only pay a fine of €10million for failure to assist UEFA adequately in its investigations.

At his pre-match media conference ahead of Tottenham's league clash with Newcastle United, Spurs boss Mourinho said: "It's a disgraceful decision.

"Because if Man City are not guilty, I think to be punished with millions is a disgrace. If you are not guilty, you are not punished.

"If they are guilty, they should be banned. In any case, the decision is a disaster.

"If you are not guilty, you should not pay. I am not saying Man City is not guilty.

"I know money for them is easy, but it's a principle. Even a pound. Why are you paying eight, nine million? It is a disgrace.

"My criticism is not to Man City; I am not to know if they are guilty. My criticism is towards those in power.

"Maybe they are unlucky because they don't deserve to be punished."

Asked if the decision spelled the end for FPP, Mourinho replied: "Yes."

Spurs, having lost their last-16 tie to RB Leipzig this season, look set to miss out on qualification for next season's Champions League. They trail fourth-place Leicester City by seven points with three games to go.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains upbeat about his team's top-four chances as he defended their mentality after Monday's last-gasp 2-2 Premier League draw with Southampton.

In-form United missed the chance to go third in the table after conceding a 96th-minute equaliser to substitute Michael Obafemi and Southampton at Old Trafford.

After rivals Chelsea and Leicester City both lost over the weekend, United had a golden opportunity to boost their Champions League qualification hopes on matchday 35.

Having fallen behind to a Stuart Armstrong strike, United looked on track to leapfrog Leicester and Chelsea thanks to quick-fire goals from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial prior to half-time.

But United were unable to hold on against a tenacious Southampton side, who restored parity in the sixth minute of additional time following a head injury to substitute Brandon Williams, which left the Red Devils down to 10 men.

Solskjaer, however, defended his United team after they ended the match level on points with fourth-placed Leicester and one adrift of Chelsea in third.

"Absolutely not," Solskjaer told reporters when asked if United have a mental block, having failed to capitalise on Chelsea's slip-up. "I don't think any of our players have though, 'Oh what have Chelsea done this weekend'. Not at all.

"It's just the way the games go and we all play against the same teams and we've all got 38 games to get through and it'll even itself out over the long season. You deserve the position you get in the end."

Solskjaer, whose United extended their unbeaten run to 18 matches across all competitions, added: "I have to say the mentality of the boys has been brilliant. We've had a few setbacks over the season, of course. This is another challenge for us.

"I'm very confident in the mentality of them, very disappointed of course. But you have to take the disappointment as well as the positives when you win games. It's disappointing when you concede with the last kick of the ball, lose two points.

"It's just part of football and we've learned a hard lesson today hopefully. We'll make it right, we'll put it right. I trust the boys in that respect."

Solskjaer is also hoping for "good news" after full-back Luke Shaw was forced off with an ankle injury in the 75th minute – replaced by Williams.

United are next in action on Thursday as they travel to Crystal Palace.

Sevilla's return to the Champions League was confirmed on Monday after Villarreal failed to defeat Real Sociedad in LaLiga. 

Villarreal needed to win their final three games to deny Sevilla a top-four finish but succumbed to a 2-1 loss against La Real at the Estadio de la Ceramica. 

LaLiga's top four has now been confirmed as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Julen Lopetegui's side. 

Sevilla reached the Champions League quarter-finals in 2017-18 but this season are in the Europa League – a competition they have won five times. 

They will play their last-16 tie against Roma on German soil after the first leg was postponed due the coronavirus pandemic.

UEFA could come under public pressure to review its Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations and procedures after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) quashed Manchester City's two-year European ban, according to sports lawyer Rob Jones.

The initial sanction, including a €30million fine, was announced by UEFA in February after it found City guilty of breaching FFP rules between 2012 and 2016. 

UEFA had launched an investigation after a series of articles published by Der Spiegel in November 2018 alleged the Premier League club had artificially inflated sponsorship revenues. 

City took the case to CAS, which found in their favour on Monday. While fined a reduced €10m for failing to co-operate with the investigation, the suspension from European competitions was overturned. 

CAS is yet to publish the full written reasons for its decision but stated most of the alleged breaches were "either not established or time-barred" due to a five-year limit in UEFA's regulations.

While there may be public calls for reform, Jones says any potential review of UEFA's FFP rules and procedures, and their implementation, will depend on the reasons CAS outlines for its decision.

Asked by Stats Perform News how significant the decision is, Jones said: "If it's detailed in the final award that there were procedural irregularities and conduct that UEFA were responsible for that has had a meaningful impact on the decision that has been made by CAS, then UEFA will be under a lot of pressure to make reforms of its procedures.

"I don't think, looking at the media release, that there are ground-breaking, fundamental principles that have been decided as unlawful and affect other sports disputes procedures.

"But the final award may reflect on some procedural issues that UEFA may need to address. And if that is the case then they will be under a lot of pressure - and not that they're not under a lot of pressure anyway at the moment - to reform the FFP regulations. 

"It seems to the general public like the rules don't have teeth … surely the current FFP is not fit for purpose and they'll be under a lot of pressure for a review of it. 

"I know the president of UEFA has been talking about a luxury tax and other sorts of reforms generally. I think they are slightly delayed at the moment because of the pandemic. 

"But certainly there will be a lot of pressure to at least review, if not conduct some minor or more material reforms on their policies and procedures." 

Manuel Pellegrini hopes to get Real Betis back to challenging for European qualification when he takes over next season. 

Betis last week announced Pellegrini's appointment as head coach on a three-year deal, though sporting director Alexis Trujillo will remain in charge for the rest of the campaign. 

Trujillo was appointed on an interim basis after the Andalusian club dispensed with Rubi three games after LaLiga resumed following its suspension amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Betis are 13th in LaLiga but Pellegrini, who took Villarreal to the Champions League semi-finals in 2006 and then Malaga to the last eight of the same competition in 2013, hopes to get them challenging near the top again. 

The club reached the round of 32 in the Europa League last season, their first appearance in the competition since going out on penalties to local rivals Sevilla in 2014, and participated in the Champions League for the first and only time in 2005-06. 

"Although the results have not been adequate, there has been institutional progress which must go hand in hand with the results on the field," Pellegrini said when presented to the media on Monday. 

"We will contribute with our experience to get the best out of the team, to have committed players. 

"It is everyone's job, we are on the same boat and the objectives are more feasible to achieve this way, with a winning mentality, because this is a team that should be fighting for European places." 

He added: "I had other offers, but I preferred Betis because I believe in the club's project. They want to make Betis grow and they have done so, although perhaps not with the results on the pitch due to different circumstances." 

Betis handed club legend Joaquin a one-year contract extension in December, meaning he has a deal at the Estadio Benito Villamarin until just before his 40th birthday.

Pellegrini is looking forward to reuniting with the winger, who he coached at Malaga, and a number of other players.

"Joaquin's career speaks for itself. At 38 or 39 years old, he is capable of making a difference, scoring eight goals this season," said Pellegrini.

"I'm very happy to coach him again, we had a great season together at Malaga. He brings experience, personality, joy and he will be important for the dressing room.

"I have no doubt that he can still bring many things to Betis.

"I am happy to be with him again, as with Juanmi, who I had at Malaga, and [Sergio] Canales who I was with at Real Madrid, and Javi Garcia at Manchester City."

UEFA's reliance on evidence first uncovered by Football Leaks could have been key to the outcome of Manchester City's Court of Arbitration for Sport appeal, according to a sports law expert.

The Premier League club had a two-year ban from UEFA competitions overturned on Monday, after CAS concluded they did not disguise equity funding as sponsorship contributions.

City were fined €10million – down from €30m – for failing to cooperate with the initial investigation, which saw them found guilty of breaching Financial Fair Play rules by European football's governing body.

However, CAS concluded that the alleged breaches were "not established or time-barred" – the latter element referring to UEFA's own rulebook that states claimed irregularities from more than five years ago are not admissible for punishment.

UEFA's latest investigation into City, who they fined for falling foul of FFP regulations in May 2014, stemmed from a series of reports by Der Spiegel, the German publication that drew on documents obtained by the whistleblower Football Leaks, purportedly showing funds from sponsors linked to the club's Abu Dhabi ownership had been improperly topped up.

Richard Cramer of Front Row Legal, a specialist in sports law, feels UEFA's reliance on those findings is likely to have been seized upon by City's legal team.

"We're waiting for the full verdict, so it's a little bit premature to be critical of UEFA or Manchester City," he told Stats Perform News. "What we do know is that this has been an ongoing matter since 2014.

"I would imagine the thrust of the submissions made by Manchester City, who had probably the finest legal brains in the country representing them, is that [Football Leaks] evidence is regarded as tainted because someone hacked into [City's] IT system."

While Pep Guardiola can call upon the midfield mastery of Kevin De Bruyne on the pitch, Cramer explained City's owners had their own courtroom superstar when it came to taking on UEFA in the form of Lord David Pannick QC.

Lord Pannick led the Supreme Court Article 50 case that Gina Miller brought against the UK government in relation to its Brexit policy and is highly respected in legal circles.

"Manchester City were able – and not every club can do this – to appoint probably the finest legal brains this country has got," Cramer reiterated.

"They brought out the golden boy, which was David Pannick QC.

"David Pannick is a very safe pair of hands, highly eminent and has clearly understood the issues. Him and the team around him have produced a magnificent result."

What that result means for UEFA is not immediately clear.

In a statement after the verdict, the organisation underlined its commitment to the principles of FFP, although further tweaks to a model first introduced in 2009 are to be expected.

While acknowledging the decision will hurt in Nyon, Cramer does not expect any further legal recourse – which in this instance would come with an appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal.

"It would have been difficult for Manchester City to take the matter to the Swiss Federal Court," he said. "Similarly, I think it's difficult for UEFA to appeal that decision.

"The only basis upon which either party has got grounds to take this further is if there have been procedural irregularities in the Court of Arbitration for Sport's proceedings, or the decision is perverse or capricious.

"UEFA will be licking their wounds and considering with their lawyers whether there is another avenue, but there's also an element that will probably say 'enough is enough' and to create further uncertainty hanging over the club isn't good.

"I suspect they'll probably throw the towel in and just take it on the chin."

Manchester City's two-year ban from European football being overturned is good because it ensures one of the Premier League's best teams will not be broken up, says Micah Richards. 

The Premier League club challenged UEFA's decision to prohibit them from continental competitions, as well as a €30million fine, for alleged breaches of Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations and failing to cooperate with its investigation. 

City appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which on Monday removed their European exclusion and reduced the fine to €10m. 

Former City defender Richards is pleased the verdict now gives the players and Pep Guardiola some clarity as they plan for the future. 

"It's good news. I don't want to be biased but with Man City they always pleaded their innocence from day one and it's good to see it come to a conclusion after it hanging over them for so long," Richards told the BBC. 

"It has made it difficult to plan for the future but, finally, it has come to a conclusion which is good for everyone. 

"Two years would have been so damaging. Pep Guardiola's contract is up at the end of next season, Kevin De Bruyne is in the form of his life – the players in that side want to play Champions League football. 

"It's good it's over with. From a players' point of view, it’s difficult not knowing if you would be in it so to put it to bed is brilliant."

City this season surrendered their Premier League crown to Liverpool, who will surpass the record 100-point haul Guardiola's side accumulated during the 2017-18 campaign if they win their remaining three games. 

Richards said: "When you look at Liverpool this season, they've been brilliant. The gap [in the table] this season is astonishing but before that City have been the go-to team. 

"We should enjoy this manager and this team because they are record holders and record breakers and no one wants to see this team broken up. 

"For Liverpool, their victory this season must be sweeter knowing the team they have beaten. To see this City team stay together is great for Man City and the Premier League in general." 

Manchester City's success in appealing a two-year UEFA competition ban proves the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is no longer up to standard, according to LaLiga president Javier Tebas.

In February, the Premier League club were accused of committing "serious breaches" of UEFA's Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations. They were handed a two-season suspension from European tournaments and fined €30million.

But CAS ruled in City's favour on Monday following the club's appeal, meaning the 2018-19 Premier League champions will be able to compete in the Champions League next season, while their fine was reduced to €10m.

Tebas has long been a critic of City and Paris Saint-Germain, routinely accusing them of "ruining" football due to being funded by "petrol money" from the Middle East, suggesting in 2017 that such situations were "financial doping".

And following Monday's ruling, Tebas hit out at CAS and questioned whether they can still be trusted to judge on such matters.

He told reporters: "We have to reassess whether the CAS is the appropriate body to which to appeal institutional decisions in football.

"Switzerland is a country with a great history of arbitration, the CAS is not up to standard."

City CEO Khaldoon Al Mubarak has previously fired back at Tebas for his comments, urging the Spanish official to look back on the history of LaLiga and its domination by two clubs before casting judgement on other leagues.

For more than a year and a half, storm clouds have hovered over Manchester City.

Monday's verdict from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which quashed a two-year ban from UEFA competitions for alleged violations of Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, will certainly feel like a liberating moment for those running the show at the Etihad Stadum, who have been dogged by revelations published by Der Spiegel in November 2018.

A €10million fine – reduced from €30m – for not co-operating with the UEFA investigation amounts to a second contravention of the governing body's rulebook following City's FFP sanctions of May 2014 and means CAS has not completely cleared the Premier League club of wrongdoing.

However, given the damage that looked likely to be wrought by a two-year Champions League exile, that fairly minor punishment will feel like a footnote to a sweet victory.

Here, we assess how the future looks brighter for Pep Guardiola and his players than it has for some time.

GUARDIOLA SET FOR AN EXTENDED STAY?  

Throughout the process, Guardiola has stated his faith in the City board, which features his close friends Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain as chief executive and director of football respectively, and the strength of their argument against UEFA's sanctions. The former Barcelona boss has also insisted he will see out a contract that runs until the end of next season, even suggesting he is open to a longer stay.

Any upheld ban would have felt like a test of Guardiola's unflinching loyalty. Could he have gone on without the competition he cherishes above all others, having misplaced faith in the guarantees of men he trusts implicitly? A swiftly deleted social media photo posted by one of his assistants, Manel Estiarte, showed a delighted Guardiola lapping up Monday's news alongside Begiristain and Soriano.

Indeed, Guardiola sounded stridently confident when discussing all matters CAS and UEFA over the weekend. Perhaps he knew something we didn't? Now clear to reboot his squad as he sees fit (more on that below), with trusted lieutenant Juanma Lillo recently added to the coaching staff and two more trophies to aim for this year, life in Manchester looks pretty good.

KEY ASSESTS DE BRUYNE AND STERLING GOING NOWHERE

A host of City's leading lights would likely have drawn advances from Europe's elite if they had been barred from the Champions League. Kevin De Bruyne told HLN a two-year absence would perhaps force him to consider his future. The Daily Mail reported on Friday that City were ready to lavish the Belgium playmaker with a bumper new contract irrespective of the outcome.

Expect talks to continue in that direction. De Bruyne is the only player to have made more than 15 assists in three separate Premier League seasons, all of which came under Guardiola's management. He makes a strong case for being the division's outstanding player.

Raheem Sterling has ambitions in that direction and beyond. The England forward was photographed with a Real Madrid shirt when he conducted an interview with Marca this year and the admiration is thought to be mutual.

Sterling is enjoying his most prolific goalscoring season and his 65 Premier League goals for City are only bettered by the club's all-time record scorer Sergio Aguero (180). At 25, he would surely have been reluctant to place a career entering its prime on pause.

KOULIBALY? A SANE REPLACEMENT? CITY SET FOR SPENDING SPREE

Two seasons without Champions League football presented a two-sided problem for City in the transfer market. They would have become instantly less attractive to prime targets such as Kalidou Koulibaly – the Napoli centre-back who is reportedly keen on a big-money switch to the Etihad Stadium, despite saying last week he is in no rush to leave – and found themselves facing a sizable financial hole.

"The figures are anything up to around £200m. That would have been the cost of no Champions League for two years," Dr Dan Plumley, senior lecturer in sport finance at Sheffield Hallam University, told Stats Perform News.

Around £90m in annual UEFA payments to English clubs reaching the latter stages of the Champions League account for this, while some sponsors would be entitled to a refund. "We've seen Manchester United, for example, their Adidas deal had performance-related bonuses linked to the Champions League," Plumley explained. "Now sponsors are looking at writing those in and they are becoming more commonplace."

A Leroy Sane replacement? A reliable left-back? Bolstered centre-back cover? A playmaker to fill David Silva's shimmering shoes? An heir to Aguero? Guardiola might have wanted all of those as he faces up to Jurgen Klopp's mighty Liverpool. Now, he might just get them.

Manchester City having their two-year ban from UEFA competitions lifted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is unlikely to herald the end of the governing body's Financial Fair Play project. 

After CAS announced their verdict on Monday, under which City must still pay a €10million fine – reduced from €30m – for failing to co-operate with the investigation, UEFA issued a statement to say it remained "committed to the principles" of FFP. 

But what are those, and have they become muddled? The system will remain in some form, but how much of it is worth saving? 

Dr Dan Plumley, senior lecturer in sport finance at Sheffield Hallam University, told Stats Perform News the effectiveness of FFP, which UEFA introduced in 2009, has been mixed even before this potentially landmark ruling. 

"I don't think it'll be the end of FFP. That's slightly premature at this stage," he said. 

"I think it does bring into question some of the wider aspects of the regulations. They have brought about financial sustainability. They have reduced losses in European football. There are figures that support that. 

"But they haven’t done anything really in respect of redressing the competitive balance. They've had really negative impacts on that and there are a lot of statistics that would support that." 

The most booming of those are not hard to spot.

Bayern Munich won their eighth consecutive Bundesliga title this season, Juventus are on course for a ninth-straight Scudetto, while the truncated Ligue 1 campaign saw PSG crowned champions for the seventh time in eight years.

"Even within a basic spend-within-your-means principle, those who are in that elite and earn more get to spend more and continually dominate on the pitch," Plumley said, while acknowledging the tricky balancing act UEFA would have to perfect if they wanted to bring about more equitable outcomes.

"Things around salary caps and wage caps have been well discussed in the past and they are now raising their head again in light of the current pandemic. In principle, they're a good idea.

"But a hard salary cap is a real challenge and the other issue with UEFA here, as we've seen in this case and with the Champions League in the past, is the power play between UEFA and the clubs.

"Some of those clubs are very powerful in their own right. If they don't like what UEFA are doing, then there's always been the threat of a breakaway league."

In the meantime, the CAS verdict hints at a tweak UEFA will be keen to make.

The Swiss-based court said a number of the allegations against City were time-barred under UEFA's own rules, which state cases more than five years old cannot be punished – a fairly obvious flaw when the period spanning 2012-2016 at the Premier League club came into focus after the Football Leaks revelations of November 2018. 

Plumley feels UEFA are likely to make amendments in that regard, but the immediate future for FFP is one fraught with problems as much due to the global situation as a damaging court defeat. 

A softening of regulations and a rejigged monitoring period were announced last month to help ease the financial pressure on clubs brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. 

It is easy to see the challenges of COVID-19 and a failure to make Manchester City's punishment stick as twin factors that could neutralise UEFA's most important lever of financial regulation, without significant adaptation and fresh clarity. 

"It needs a real look at what those regulations are designed to do," Plumley added. "UEFA have never really got to grips with that. 

"The crux of the regulations is whether or not they're designed to look at debt and losses, or whether or not they're designed to stop owner injections to a varying degree. 

"Some of the things around sponsorship deals, stadium infrastructure, youth development – there's always been some workaround on FFP. That's what created a lot of the criticism of those regulations. They're not clear cut within themselves. 

"There may be a call to scrap FFP completely. I think UEFA would like some form of financial control within the game still, but whether that's FFP in its current format, I doubt that moving forward."

Frank Lampard insists he never pinned Chelsea's Champions League qualification hopes on Manchester City not being allowed to compete in UEFA competition.

City were handed a €30million fine and two-year ban from the Champions League and Europa League by UEFA in February due to alleged "serious breaches" of club licencing and financial fair play (FFP) regulations.

But the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled in City's favour on Monday following the club's appeal, meaning the 2018-19 Premier League champions will be able to compete in UEFA competition next season, while their fine was reduced to €10m.

The CAS decision will also have serious ramifications in the Premier League, as fifth-place will no longer be good enough for Champions League qualification, as it had looked set to be with City – who sit second in the table – out of the picture.

Six points separate five teams in the race for the second two spots in the top four, and although a Manchester United win over Southampton on Monday will elevate them to third and above Chelsea, Lampard remains relaxed about the situation.

"I was pretty neutral on it [the City verdict] really," Lampard told reporters ahead of Tuesday's visit of already-relegated Norwich City. "I didn't know much about the case, I just looked at the result of it this morning.

"I don't see beyond the games in hand, we want to win them. I was never pinning my hopes on it, we just looked at ourselves.

"My only concern are the games ahead. We are at a critical stage of the season. We know what is in front of us. We have to try to finish the job.

"We are sitting third, it is in our hands. This morning has just made it clear now and we have to fight for it."

Lampard will hope the visit of struggling Norwich provides some relief and respite for Chelsea, who have been erratic this month.

After enjoying a three-match winning streak after the season's resumption in June, Chelsea have since lost two of their past four, including a dire 3-0 defeat at fellow European hopefuls Sheffield United last time out.

While Lampard says he has tried to not dwell on that loss, he did acknowledge changes are likely.

"Possibly, [but] I don't want to give my starting XI away," he said. "While I have to consider the freshness of the team, we are trying to get the balance of the side as well.

"Sheffield United have taken big teams all the way this year. I won't dwell on the game, it can happen to any team. It's something we don't like, but we are striving to be better and it is important for that.

"I don't have a set way of dealing with it, just how I see fit. I like to watch games back. The players could feel they weren't at their best, we are moving on and we have a positive feeling in the camp.

"If you don't turn up and perform, it doesn't matter about momentum, but having good home form gives us confidence. Norwich - we have to treat them with utmost respect. They can feel unfortunate with some of their results."

Leicester City's shock 4-1 defeat at Bournemouth on Sunday at least ensured Chelsea will remain in the top four regardless of United's result against Saints.

Similarly, on paper the Foxes have the trickiest run-in of the three teams as well, as they have to face the Blades, Tottenham and then Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men on the final day of the season.

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