Guardiola accuses Premier League rivals of piling on 'condemned' Man City as he vows to stay

By Sports Desk February 10, 2023

Pep Guardiola took aim at Manchester City's Premier League rivals, accusing them of being behind the charges the champions face over their finances, and insisted: "More than ever I want to stay."

The City manager claimed nine Premier League teams – who he named – had tried to have City thrown out of the Champions League previously, when the club faced UEFA charges over financial fair play.

He said all 19 of City's rivals this season wanted to see the champions punished, but Guardiola is convinced City have operated by the book and will be cleared.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach then questioned what the reparations would be once City are proven not guilty and said it was clear they were already being treated as a "condemned" club.

In a fiery broadside at the rest of the English elite, Guardiola also said other clubs should be careful about pushing for action against City, suggesting they may not want their own financial affairs too closely examined.

City have been accused of over 100 breaches of the Premier League's financial rules between the seasons of 2009-10 and 2017-18. Guardiola said the action had come about because City "are not part of the establishment".

"My first thought is we have already been condemned," he said. "What's happened this week after Monday is what happened with UEFA."

In 2020, City had a two-year ban from European football overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The club were fined €10million for a failure to cooperate, down from an initial €30m, but were allowed to play in UEFA's international club tournaments.

Guardiola said: "The club proved we are completely innocent.

"You have to understand that between 19 teams of the Premier League accusing us without the least opportunity to defend, and the words of my club, my owner, my chairman, my CEO, explaining everything during these three or four years, you know exactly on what side I am."

Guardiola said it felt as thought City were "already sentenced", but he takes heart from the fact City have already fought what he sees as a similar case, from which they emerged reasonably unscathed.

"I think the Premier League, supported by 19 teams, are going to take good lawyers, too, to defend their position, like we are going to defend our position," Guardiola said.

"Time will dictate what is going to happen, but just in case we are not innocent, we will accept what the judge, the Premier League decide.

"But what happens if the same situation with UEFA happens and we are innocent? What happens to restore or pay back our damage?"

He alleged Burnley, Wolves, Leicester City, Newcastle United, Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea had all wanted City out of the Champions League previously.

"Like Julius Caesar said, in this world there are not enemies or friends, there are just interests," Guardiola said.

In a rare lighthearted moment, he jokingly suggested City would call on club legends Paul Dickov and Mike Summerbee if they were expelled from the Premier League and sent down the divisions, but he promised the club would return to the elite.

"It's the second time of this story. We've lived this before," Guardiola added. "Between these nine teams before and these 19 teams now, the words of them or the words of my people, I'm sorry, but I rely on the words of my people.

"I'm fully convinced we will be innocent."

Guardiola said nobody could take away City's spectacular achievements over the past 15 years, during the Abu Dhabi ownership period.

And he said all the feats during his seven-and-a-half-year reign "belong to us, for our fans, for our people".

Was this all being driven by other clubs, Guardiola was asked to clarify.

"Yes, of course, it's the Premier League," he replied. "I don't know [why]. You have to go to all the CEOs, [people like Tottenham's] Daniel Levy and all these kind of people, and ask them."

Guardiola is steadfast he will not be quitting City over this matter.

"Hopefully the reason they sack me from here will be the results," he said. "I'm not moving from this seat, I can assure you. More than ever I want to stay. Sometimes I have doubts that seven years, eight years is a long time in any country.

"It's many, many years, imagine, in the Premier League, but now I don't want to move. Not because the people say, 'they lie to you, Pep'. They didn't lie to me. Look what happened with UEFA. I said to them, 'what happened?'

"They said, 'Pep, we didn't do anything wrong', and we proved it. Now it is the same case. Why should I not trust my people and trust with all of the CEOs and owners from the 19 clubs? No, I trust my people, not one second for the other ones."

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