Pep Guardiola has insisted that Manchester City have followed Financial Fair Play rules, as he breaks his silence on the club being reinstated into the Champions League after previously receiving a two-year ban.
City were suspended from the competition for two seasons after allegedly breaking FFP rules. They contested the ban and associated fine of €30m given to them five months ago after they were told they were in serious breach of FFP regulations, with the club's Abu Dhabi owners accused of disguising their own, private investment as sponsorship deals.
The initial investigation commenced after allegations in several articles by German magazine Der Spiegel, who allegedly gained access to leaked emails from within the club.
They suggested that just £8m of sponsorship came from the club’s major sponsor, Etihad Airlines, out of the £67.5m worth of sponsorship revenue the club received, with the rest coming personally from the Abu Dhabi United Group.
However, CAS lifted the ban after the club were deemed not guilty of the aforementioned infractions, but rather for failing to cooperate with the investigation, for which they have now been fined €10m .
CAS’s panel hearing City’s case reached the conclusion that the charges against them were 'not established or time-barred', in simple terms meaning they were too late (beyond the five-year window) for Uefa’s own rules to be upheld.
City have always maintained their innocence and Guardiola has reiterated that they have complied with FFP regulations when spending.
"We have made a step forward in 10 years,” he said.
“We invested a lot of money, like a lot of clubs. We did it the right way. We have not been banned because we followed the FFP rules. If we hadn’t we would have been banned.
“Like we have done for the last few years, we are going to try and win on the pitch. The people cannot forget, we were damaged. We showed it was not true. That’s why people have to be happy or should at least accept, because we should complain and we’ve not complained.”
If the ban was upheld, City faced a potential exodus of their top stars, with Kevin De Bruyne admitting that he would review his future at the club should they be not allowed to compete in the Champions League.
For Pep, though, he was always going to stay.
He added: “My personal situation was clear, I said a month ago, I will stay, it doesn’t matter if I was in the Champions League.
“Some people in England suggested we should have been in League 2. I would have stayed here. Now is not the time (to talk about contracts). We have one month in front of us. One more year is a long, long time for a manager.
“I was happy before and I am now. We have time to talk about this.”
Man City may have already surrendered the Premier League title to Liverpool, but are still fighting on two fronts for a trophy this season, with a Champions League last-16 second-leg tie against Real Madrid on the horizon, as well as the FA Cup semi final.