Manchester: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes the club has already been ‘condemned’ after being charged by the Premier League with over 100 breaches of financial rules since 2009.
Speaking for the first time since the reigning champions were hit with the charges this week, Guardiola gave an impassioned defence of the club he joined in 2016 and who he has taken to four Premier League titles.
He also said that the charges were driven by the other Premier League clubs and that if City were found guilty and, in the worst case scenario, relegated they would take their punishment and work their way back to the top flight.
“My first thought is that we are already being condemned,” Guardiola told a news conference ahead of this weekend’s home clash against Aston Villa.
“It’s the same as what happened after UEFA (charges). These are just charges. With UEFA the club proved it was completely innocent. We are lucky we live in a marvellous country where everyone is innocent until proven guilty.
“We didn’t have this opportunity, we are already sentenced.” The charges against City stem from a Premier League investigation into their financial dealings launched four years ago, after the release of a tranche of “Football Leaks” documents obtained by the German publication Der Spiegel.
City were subsequently banned from the Champions League by European governing body UEFA for two years, but successfully appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which overturned the ban in 2020.
“We have a good lawyer, not that UEFA had bad lawyers. And I think the Premier League, supported by 19 teams, are going to take good lawyers too to defend their position.
“I would have loved to wait and see to find out what happens but just in case we are not innocent we will accept what the judge and the Premier League decides.
“But if the same situation with UEFA happens and we are innocent, what happens to restore or pay back our damage?” City have won the Premier League title six times since 2008 with Guardiola suggesting the success meant there was an agenda against them by rival clubs.
“Of course, it’s the Premier League. I don’t know why, you’ll have to go to the all the CEOs and all these kinds of people and ask them,” he said.
Guardiola also warned that other clubs should look at their own affairs before condemning Manchester City.
“What they have done to us be careful in the future because many clubs can be accused like we have been accused,” the Spanish coach said.
“That they are pushing to get rid of us out of the competition, that is obvious because they believe that we didn’t behave properly. We accept that but let us defend when we believe we did it properly.”
The charges against City, the world’s highest revenue-generating club last season according to Deloitte, will be heard by an independent commission.