Guardi­ola con­fi­dent City will avoid UEFA ban over spend­ing

Sunday Observer - - SPORT - ANCHESTER -

M

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 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 Chair- man 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 s i de, un­beaten in their open­ing 15 league games, vis­ited Chelsea yes­ter­day, where they were 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.

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