Friday, November 16, 2018

City want to follow UEFA rules, says Guardiola

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 6 Nov 2018

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Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City want to follow the rules set by football’s governing bodies amid allegations that the Premier League champions flagrantly breached Financial Fair Play (FFP) laws.

German magazine Der Spiegel has made a series of claims against City this week in an on-going series of articles, which are based on documents purportedly attained from whistleblowers Football Leaks.

Der Spiegel’s reporting claims Sheikh Mansour’s City regime have topped up multi-million pound sponsorship deals with Abu Dhabi companies, using their owner’s fortune, in order to meet UEFA’s FFP stipulations.

On Friday, when the latest round of Football Leaks stories emerged with allegations that City were cut a favourable FFP settlement when they were punished for overspending by UEFA in 2014, the club declined to comment on “out of context materials purportedly hacked or stolen from City Football Group and Manchester City” and claimed “the attempt to damage the club’s reputation is organised and clear”. City have since offered no response to a further request for comment on this week’s stories by Omnisport.

It left Guardiola to front the first public response at a news conference to preview Wednesday’s Champions League match against Shakhtar Donetsk.

“I think about that issue, the club made a statement last week about what happens about stolen mails,” he began, when asked whether the accusations undermine the achievements of a team he steered to 100-point haul last season.

“What I can say is I trust a lot with the club about what they have done. And, of course we want to follow the rules of UEFA, FIFA and the Premier League.

“They [the club] do what we have to do. Believe me, I am completely honest, I don’t know what happened [regarding the Football Leaks allegations] because I am a manager focused on the pitch and the locker room.

“How they handle this situation, I am completely out of that. But I am part of the club. I support, absolutely, the club. And we want to do what we have to do in terms of the rules.

“If it undermines what we have done or not, opinions are free in those terms. In the end, focusing on what we have to do on the pitch is all we can do.”

Guardiola went on to acknowledge the significant factor of Sheikh Mansour’s investment in his side’s success and how it will colour any future achievements in the eyes of some observers.

“I think people said that about this club for the last decade,” he said, referring to City’s 2008 takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group. “[People say] this club just wins because we have money.

“That is an issue that will always stay here. To pass from one level to reach another level you need a lot of time. It costs money. When you invest more the time reduces.

“When I was in Catalonia and in Germany, always I listened to the boys [saying] Manchester City has just money.

“We have to live with that. I am inside now for the last three years. I would say, of course, like many, many clubs around the world there is a lot of money but they are an incredible club. There are incredible people working here.

“It is an incredible, professional club and they try to do the good things in the right way.”

Guardiola added: “After that, if the people say it is just about that [money] we have to accept it. But in my point of view it is completely wrong because we work a lot in a good way. That’s why I will always defend, especially, my players and what they do.”

Two players Guardiola has back at his disposal to face Shakhtar are centre-back Nicolas Otamendi (tendon) and midfielder Ilkay Gundogan (hamstring), who sat out the 6-1 weekend win over Southampton.

City sit top of Group F after three games – a point ahead of Lyon, who beat them on the first matchday, and four better off than Shakhtar.

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