Man City’s Guardiola reacts to Der Spiegel accusations

Joe Williams

Pep Guardiola “trusts” Manchester City as they again defended themselves from accusations they have tried to cheat European football’s Financial Fair Play rules.

Last week, German magazine Der Spiegel published a story which claimed the Premier League leaders struck a secret deal with European football’s governing body UEFA in 2014 to avoid a potential Champions League ban for breaching FFP regulations.

City said at the time the original magazine article was published that they would not be commenting and that the attempt to damage their reputation was “organised and clear”.

On Monday, Der Spiegel published a new article on what it alleges are City’s attempts to deceive UEFA by channelling millions of pounds of their owner Sheikh Mansour’s immense wealth into the club via their Abu Dhabi-based sponsors.

LaLiga, the Spanish top flight, has said that if UEFA does not act, it will “launch a complaint with EU competition authorities” and said it could not rule out calling for an investigation.

Manager Guardiola was asked about the claims at a press conference to preview Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Shakhtar Donetsk, and said: “The club has made a statement on Friday about what happened, stolen emails. Of course I trust the club, what they have done.

“Of course we want to follow the rules. UEFA, FIFA and the Premier League, they do what they have to do. Believe me, I’m completely honest, I don’t know what happened, I’m a manager, focused on the pitch, the locker room.

“I am a manager. I’m completely out of how we handle this situation. I’m part of the club, I support the club. We want to do what we have to do in terms of the rules.

Guardiola added that City “have to live with” suggestions they have bought their success, but that he considered that view “completely wrong”.

Citing emails between City bosses that it claims to have obtained, Der Spiegel alleges that Sheikh Mansour, a senior member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family, has been topping up City’s already lucrative sponsorship deals with Emirati companies with his own money – which if true would be a clear breach of FFP’s rules against “related parties” pumping cash into clubs.

The second part of Der Spiegel’s series was released on Tuesday and alleged that City set up a project group to circumvent FFP rules. City responded to Der Spiegel’s latest report by reissuing the statement they first released last week.

UEFA said it “cannot comment on specific cases due to confidentiality obligations” but the governing body is certain to come under pressure in the coming weeks to reopen its FFP investigation into City’s finances.