Manuel Pellegrini believes his Premier League title with Manchester City “can’t be taken away” after the club were charged over alleged breaches of financial regulations.
The league referred City to an independent commission after numerous alleged breaches that date back as far as the 2009-10 season.
Possible punishments have not been confirmed, but there has been discussion of what any sanctions might mean for titles won during the period in question.
Pellegrini, now at Real Betis, won the 2013-14 league title with City, as well as two EFL Cups, before being replaced by Pep Guardiola in 2016.
“That league can’t be taken away because it’s been lived – with your fans, at the ground,” Pellegrini told the Guardian. “You were at Wembley, you lifted a cup.
“Could there be some legal means? I hope not, that everything gets clarified.
“But that can’t be taken from you. Imagine they take the trophy away, I don’t think the runner-up now feels like the champion.
“Football is the moment. You win on the pitch.”
Manuel Pellegrini: “It’s been three wonderful years – unforgettable. Thank you to the fans, I’ll never forget you.” pic.twitter.com/8SOAQkn6zH
— Premier League (@premierleague) May 8, 2016
The 2014 title was City’s second – after Roberto Mancini’s 2011-12 team provided the first – but Pellegrini recalled his side’s spending was not out of the ordinary.
He added: “The criticism is unfair. If there had been an astronomical difference, then maybe, but Chelsea were spending a fortune, Manchester United were spending a fortune, Liverpool, Arsenal.
“The work City did was very good; it’s not just related to money.
“For example, they swapped Mancini for me for football reasons. And then [when I left], they said: if it’s not Guardiola, it’s you. You work for three years, Guardiola comes; there’s continuity.
“Other big clubs invested but couldn’t do that. We’ve seen teams come up, spend £100m, go down again.”
In Pellegrini’s title-winning season, City spent a reported £90million on players such as Fernandinho, Stevan Jovetic and Alvaro Negredo.
Chelsea spent more, around £110m, while Liverpool finished second despite spending less than half of both those clubs.
Pellegrini indicated the Premier League’s increasing and diverse spending power has become one of its strengths, with many clubs able to splash out – unlike in LaLiga.
However, he still ranks the standard of football in Spain’s top flight ahead of its English equivalent.
“City, United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, now Newcastle, could all compete for the league,” Pellegrini said.
“The distribution of money is better, the amount generated. In Spain, the gap is significant.
“England is the best league, but the best football is played in Spain.
“Look at the Champions League, and Real Madrid or Barcelona are champions. In the Europa League, Villarreal and Sevilla.”
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