Pep Guardi­ola con­fi­dent Man City will not face Cham­pi­ons League ban

The Borneo Post - - SPORT -

MANCH­ESTER, United King­dom: Pep Guardi­ola is con­fi­dent that Manch­ester City will not be banned from the Cham­pi­ons League at the end of an on­go­ing Fi­nan­cial Fair Play in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter speak­ing with the club’s se­nior fig­ures.

UEFA pres­i­dent Alek­sander Ce­ferin has promised that there will be ac­tion “very soon” re­gard­ing its as­sess­ment of al­le­ga­tions that City broke FFP rules.

The Ger­man mag­a­zine Der Spiegel, us­ing ma­te­rial pur­port­edly ob­tained from the whistle­blow­ing out­let Foot­ball Leaks, re­ported in Novem­ber that City had set up spon­sor­ship deals to cir­cum­vent reg­u­la­tions lim­it­ing how much money own­ers can put into a club.

City re­sponded to that re­port by say­ing there had been an “or­gan­ised and clear” at­tempt to dam­age the club’s rep­u­ta­tion and that the emails that al­legedly in­formed the ac­cu­sa­tions had been ob­tained il­le­gally.

A ban from UEFA com­pe­ti­tions, in­clud­ing the Cham­pi­ons League, is a po­ten­tial pun­ish­ment if City are found guilty of FFP breaches.

The club were fined 60 mil­lion eu­ros ($68 mil­lion) and sub­jected to squad, wage and spend­ing caps in a 2014 set­tle­ment agreed with UEFA fol­low­ing a pre­vi­ous breach of the rules.

Guardi­ola says City would ac­cept a ban but does not be­lieve it is likely af­ter dis­cus­sions with chair­man Khal­doon al Mubarak and chief ex­ec­u­tive Fer­ran So­ri­ano.

He said: “We will not be banned, no. That’s what I think be­cause I trust in my chair­man, with my CEO, what they have ex­plained to me. I trust in them.

“If it hap­pens, be­cause UEFA de­cide that, we will ac­cept it and move for­ward.”

While City are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated off the pitch, the team are con­tin­u­ing to en­joy fine form on it, lead­ing the Premier League by two points go­ing into the week­end’s fix­tures.

Guardi­ola’s side, un­beaten in their open­ing 15 league games, visit Chelsea on Satur­day, where they are likely to face Jorginho, a player Guardi­ola tried un­suc­cess­fully to sign from Napoli in the sum­mer.

The Italy mid­fielder, 26, in­stead fol­lowed head coach Mau­r­izio Sarri from Naples to Stam­ford Bridge in July, sign­ing a five-year con­tract.

It has meant that Guardi­ola has had to con­tinue to rely heav­ily on Fer­nand­inho in the mid­field an­chor role, with the Brazil in­ter­na­tional the only out­field player to have started all 15 of City’s league games to date. Guardi­ola was re­luc­tant to dis­cuss the dis­ap­point­ment of fail­ing to sign Jorginho, but was happy to ex­tol the virtues of Fer­nand­inho, who turned 33 in May.

“He did not come to com­pete with Fer­nand­inho to be part of our team – but what Fer­nand­inho has done here, not just this sea­son but all the years we have been to­gether, is in­cred­i­ble,” he said.

“I un­der­stand com­pletely that most of the good things we have in this mo­ment is thanks to that guy.

“I am very pleased for him and pretty sure with his per­son­al­ity that he will con­tinue (to per­form in) that way.”

City are also set to face Eden Haz­ard, a player Guardi­ola de­scribed as “one of the best in the world”.

Haz­ard joked in an in­ter­view with Bel­gian me­dia dur­ing the week that the only way City could im­prove was by sign­ing him.

Guardi­ola, join­ing in with the joke, re­sponded: “That is not go­ing to hap­pen.”

The City man­ager, asked how dan­ger­ous the Chelsea play­maker is, added: “A lot. He said that he’s so good and I am agree­ing with him. Switch on the TV and look at him. You re­alise his qual­i­ties. He is one of the best play­ers in the world.”

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