Arsene Wenger says Manchester City must be punished if they have flouted UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rule, aiming a dig at the Premier League champions for always coming for his players while managing Arsenal.
Wenger was a big critic of City – accusing them of “financial doping” as Emmanuel Adebayor, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy, Kolo Toure and Bacary Sagna all moved to the Etihad as City’s owners splashed the cash to transform the club.
The legendary French coach constantly called for a UEFA clampdown and has little sympathy for the Premier League champions after they were hit with a two-year European ban and a £25million fine for failing to meet FFP regulations.
“City bought all of my players!” Wenger said while speaking at the 20th Laureus Sports Awards.
“My belief is that sport is about trying to win by respecting the rules.
“We celebrate the best in every sport – but only if we know the winners respect the rules.
“If there is no respect then it’s not real sport.
“The table is always linked to the amount of money clubs spend on players.
“Historically it was about the turnover of clubs – and more or less it used to be pretty much the same.
“But the financial strength of the top clubs has become stronger than it was 20 or 30 years ago.
“I was always in favour of financial control on clubs and income that is not natural.
“I am also convinced that the rules still have to evolve into something better – but at the moment they are what they are.
“If it is proven that this has been done on purpose then City cannot go unpunished.
“I don’t know the case well enough to say what kind of punishment has to be made.
“I don’t know if it is planned to take City’s title away because I don’t know the rules well enough.
“But the difference between the big clubs and the smaller clubs has become bigger – and we can now predict with accuracy what is going to happen in every league.”
City have vowed to fight the ban and will lodge an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to have the UEFA punishment overturned.
The Blues have won four titles, two FA Cups and four League Cups since 2011 and have qualified for the Champions League for each of the last nine seasons.