Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola trusts his club will be exonerated after UEFA opened an investigation into potential breaches of Financial Fair Play regulations.
German magazine Der Spiegel, using material purportedly obtained from the whistleblowing outlet Football Leaks, alleged in November that Abu-Dhabi backed City had set up sponsorship deals to circumvent regulations limiting how much money owners can put into a club.
UEFA announced on Thursday those claims were being investigated and should they be found guilty, the English champions could be hit with a ban from the Champions League.
City responded immediately by saying they supported the investigation and that they had nothing to hide.
“Manchester City welcomes the opening of a formal UEFA investigation as an opportunity to bring to an end the speculation resulting from the illegal hacking and out of context publication of City emails,” the club said in a statement.
“The accusation of financial irregularities are entirely false. The club’s published accounts are full and complete and a matter of legal and regulatory record.”
One of Guardiola’s biggest challenges when he took charge of City in 2016 was to lead the club to win the Champions League for the first time.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss has seen his side eliminated in the last 16 and quarter-finals in the past two seasons, but they are favourites to win the competition this year and hold a 3-2 lead over Schalke from the first leg of their last 16 tie in Germany.
“I think the club made a statement yesterday. I can’t add more than that,” said Guardiola on Friday.
“The club is open and hopefully it can finish as soon as possible. I trust what the club has done because I know them.
“Hopefully it can be solved as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, Guardiola insist his City legacy will not be impacted by any disciplinary action UEFA may take.
Guardiola has won the Premier League title in record-breaking fashion and also lifted two League Cups with City.
“No, absolutely not,” said Guardiola when asked if his achievements with the club may be diminished by the affair.
“I think the club made their statement yesterday, I can’t add more than that.
“The club is open so hopefully it can finish as soon as possible and UEFA can decide what it sees.
“I said last season, I trust a lot what the club has done because I know them but hopefully they can solve it as soon as possible and stop for this environment.”
Asked whether he was happy with the club’s position, Guardiola replied: “Yes, definitely.”
– Less mistakes –
On more routine football matters, Guardiola remains a supporter of VAR despite the latest high-profile decision that saw Manchester United awarded a dubious penalty in the last minute of their dramatic Champions League victory at Paris Saint Germain in midweek.
“We experienced it in our first game against Schalke. I’m a fan of this technology to help the referees,” he said.
“I think UEFA will analyse the situation, going bad going good. if VAR says penalty, we try to fix it the rules will be clear. It helps the ref make less mistakes.”
City face Watford in the Premier League on Saturday, with the chance to extend the one-point lead over their second placed Liverpool at the top of the table.
But they still have key injury problems with midfielder Fernandinho, playmaker Kevin De Bruyne and England defender John Stones all out.
City play just under 24 hours before Liverpool this weekend, with Jurgen Klopp’s side facing Burnley on Sunday, and Guardiola believes Watford, and their manager Javi Garcia, will pose a stern test at the Etihad Stadium.
“It’s incredible what he’s done, one of the toughest games we had,” said Guardiola, whose side won 2-1 at Watford before Christmas.
“In the last nine games, they have shown physicality, quality one on one, strong in the air, well organised.
“It’s massively important at home to take our points.”