How can the Blades qualify?
United’s dream of Europe is getting more and more plausible as the games go by, not least helped by the exclusion of Manchester City from European competitions should the ban be upheld.
The citizens also helped boost Sheffield United’s chances by winning the League Cup, which brings with it the chance of European football should the side be able to play in the Europa League and with City banned, and likely to finish within the top four should the ban be rescinded, the Europa League spot then falls down to whoever finishes one below the guaranteed spot (7th if the ban is upheld and 6th if it is rescinded).
The same applies to the FA Cup, a competition the Blades are still in. Should the winner be a side who have already qualified for a European place, the opportunity then falls one place further down (8th if the Manchester City ban is upheld and 7th if it is rescinded).
What does this all mean off the pitch?
To put it simply, European football would do wonders for the club. Whilst there may be fear on the pitch of; squad depth, extra games and travelling, off the pitch the Blades could not ask to be in a better position.
The income from UEFA is monumental, which is why Pep Guardiola and his side will be desperate to remove such a ban and why some were so baffled as to why Mauricio Pochettino would rotate in the Champions League just to earn qualification again for the next season rather than play a full-strength side to progress further in the competition.
According to Rich Jones via the Mirror Sport, Manchester City made £77million revenue from the Champions League alone, which does not include gate receipts.
The knock-on effect of this is then leverage on larger sponsorship income for the club, not just in the Champions League, as well as an on the pitch impact of being able to attract big-name players.
English football’s “top six” became that in recent years thanks to the booming income of European football and sponsorship rights.
If Wilder’s side found a way to consistently finish in European places, which would be a more plausible fate if the two-year ban is upheld against Manchester City, then who knows quite where the Blades could end up in years to come.