Pep Guardiola has accused rival clubs of jealousy in pushing for Manchester City to be punished for breaching financial regulations.
The City manager claimed on Friday that the other 19 Premier League clubs had been the driving force behind the 115 charges they were hit with this week for breaking the competition’s Financial Fair Play rules.
He feels this way because three years ago nine clubs wrote to the Court of Arbitration for Sport requesting City’s two-year European ban for contravening UEFA’s FFP regulations not be stayed during their appeal process.
This was dismissed and City later won their appeal to CAS but Guardiola remembers the matter well and feels history could be repeating itself now.
In response to a question referencing jealousy, Guardiola said: “That is part of the sport. When a team is winning you want to beat them – that is nice, it happens.
“But what these nine teams have done, I don’t forget it. They want the position in the Champions League for the big amount of money to pay for the stadiums they built.
“They can be suspicious, that is OK, but (they should) wait. We can go with our lawyers and say, ‘Listen, we have done this and this’, as happened with UEFA.
“Wait. They didn’t. Not even one second.”
The bulk of the new Premier League charges cover a period from 2009-18, although the club have also been accused of failing to co-operate with the investigation in the subsequent years.
What punishment they could face if found guilty is unclear but points deductions, transfer embargoes, being stripped of titles or even expulsion from the competition are possibilities.
Whatever the outcome, however, Guardiola is adamant that no-one can take away from the people involved what City achieved in those years.
City won four Premier League titles during the period that was investigated, two of which were overseen by Guardiola.
The Catalan said: “Come on, they belong to us. Absolutely, they belong to us. Regardless of the sentence, they belong to us.
“The moment from Sergio Aguero, with Balotelli slipping him in… I don’t know if we are responsible for Steven Gerrard slipping. In that situation at Anfield I didn’t want that, for respect for Steven Gerrard, but is it our fault?
“Come on. That belongs to us, and the moments that we lived these years together.
“OK, the Premier League will decide but I know what we won, and the way we won it, with the effort we put in.
“For something that happened in 2009 or 2010 – I don’t how long ago it was – this is not going to change that one second.”
City will face a hearing before an independent commission but the process could take many months, perhaps even years.
Guardiola has urged club and fans to stick together.
He said: “We will have to move closer together than ever – no matter if we are alone – in the toughest moments that will come.”