Pep Guardiola has admitted he is uncertain if Manchester City will have their two-year ban from European competition quashed when the verdict is delivered on Monday.
While the manager has full confidence in the club there is an acceptance that he cannot be sure until the judgment on Uefa’s suspension of City, due at 9.30am UK time, is announced.
Guardiola said: “I’m confident in the club, the arguments, the defence they had, and that next season we’re going to [take up] the place we won on the pitch this season. But we have to wait. I know there are many teams [who may qualify for the Champions League instead of City] in the Premier League waiting too. But we are going to wait.”
In February the club was given the punishment by the adjudicatory chamber of Uefa’s club financial control body after it found City seriously misled Uefa and had broken financial fair play rules. City, who were also fined €30m (£25m), subsequently launched the appeal to the court of arbitration for sport.
The original guilty verdict followed an investigation initiated when “leaked” emails and documents were placed in the public domain by Der Spiegel in November 2018. These appeared to show that Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who owns the club, was funding a large proportion of the £67.5m a-year sponsorship deal for the City shirt, stadium and academy by Abu Dhabi’s national airline, Etihad. One email indicated that, in 2015-16, only £8m was funded directly by Etihad, the remainder deriving from Mansour’s ownership vehicle of City, the Abu Dhabi United Group.
Guardiola said: “It was an issue a long time ago, 90% of the staff [now at the club] were not there, but we’re going to see. We respect the decision, but I tried to be involved in knowing what happened, and I am fully confident about what the club has done, to allow us to play in the Champions League on the pitch next season.”
City’s 5-0 win at Brighton on Saturday confirmed they will finish second in the Premier League but Guardiola did not wish to be drawn on potentially playing in the Champions League again next season.
“We say nothing, because we wait until Monday,” he said. “After Monday the club will make a statement, and I’m going to make my answer. But I cannot say anything else that we have done. Being second, being in the Champions League next season, it is a joy to watch our team, we are ready for the rest of the season. I am confident that I don’t know anything about this, it’s just a feeling, because we know exactly what the club has done, and to be confident that nothing wrong happened.”