Fact check: Were Manchester City found ‘innocent’ of UEFA allegations as Pep Guardiola said?

Pep Guardiola faced the press on Friday for the first time since the Premier League charged Manchester City with more than 100 breaches of its financial rules following a four-year investigation.

Guardiola, who joined Manchester City in 2016, insisted they were “innocent” and has repeatedly compared the Premier League’s announcement to UEFA’s decision that the club committed “serious breaches” of financial fair play regulations between 2012 and 2016 (FFP) committed.

UEFA banned City from European club competitions for two seasons, although the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) then reversed that decision.

“My first thought is that we have already been convicted, as was the case with UEFA,” Guardiola said on Friday. “We had allegations. The club proved that we were totally innocent. You know which side I’m on.”

But City have not been proven “completely innocent” of the UEFA allegations.

We analyze what Guardiola said and how exactly her case at UEFA ended.

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The Premier League statement on Manchester City – a line-by-line note

What did Guardiola say?

He said Manchester City have proved they are “completely innocent” of the charges leveled against them by UEFA for breaching FFP regulations.

Guardiola said: “My first thought is that we have already been sentenced. It’s been like UEFA since Monday. The club proved they were completely innocent, now why should I think with only proposition charges?

“You have to understand that the 19 Premier League teams are charging us with no (any) way to defend themselves. You know exactly which side I’m on.”

He then added: “If we’re not innocent then we will accept what the judge or the Premier League decides, but what happens if it’s the same as UEFA and we’re innocent? What is being done to repair our damage?”

Asked if his work at the club could be affected by a potentially lengthy investigation, he said: “It happened at UEFA. I don’t think we’ll be talking about this every day. We just have to focus on the field.”

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At Manchester City on a remarkable day that nobody at the club saw coming

Remind us what happened to City and UEFA…

UEFA’s investigation began immediately after German newspaper Der Spiegel published leaked documents in November 2018 claiming that City had inflated the value of a sponsorship deal in order to mislead European Football’s governing body.

UEFA’s FFP rules were – and still are – much stricter than the Premier League in terms of annual losses allowed. So they launched their formal investigation in March 2019 faster than the Premier League.

Eleven months later, the adjudicatory chamber of their FFP regulator, the Club Financial Control Body, ruled that City had misstated their £200m annual accounts between 2012 and 2016. It also said the club had not cooperated in its investigation.

The penalty for those offenses was a two-year ban from European competition and a €30m (£26.8m, $32.2m) fine.

But five months later, in July 2020, a three-person CAS panel acquitted City of the most serious charge — revenue exaggeration — by a majority verdict.

Some of UEFA’s charges were statute-barred as they fell outside the organisation’s five-year statute of limitations, but most of them were simply ‘undecided’ as far as the panel was concerned.

City understandably celebrated what they saw as a thorough defense of their claims to innocence, as Guardiola repeatedly mentioned on Friday.

Manchester City have been charged with more than 100 financial rule violations (Getty Images)

Manchester City have been charged with more than 100 financial rule violations (Getty Images)

So have Manchester City been found ‘innocent’?

The CAS lifted the ban because the alleged FFP Rules violations were either unproven or time-barred – ie according to UEFA regulations some of the alleged violations happened too long to be considered. However, the club was found guilty of not cooperating with UEFA as they failed to provide significant amounts of evidence.

CAS said this violation was “serious” and must be “seriously reproached”. The city was fined £8.8million.

CAS said City “apparently disregarded” UEFA’s investigations, although it “found no conclusive evidence that they disguised the funding as sponsorship from their owner”.

The short answer is City won the war but lost a battle for non-cooperation. Some wonder if City did it on purpose because they had something to hide, while others say it was a legitimate tactic against a case based on stolen footage.

So the answer is bound to be more complex than Guardiola made it seem.

What is City accused of this time?

City have been charged with more than 100 breaches of Premier League financial rules after a four-year investigation.

The Premier League referred the club to an independent commission over alleged rule-breaking between 2009 and 2018. There is no time limit in Premier League rules. So when a defense presents its case, it cannot say that those alleged offenses are too long ago to be punished.

The commission can impose penalties ranging from a fine to points deduction to expulsion from the Premier League.

You can find out more about the fees here.

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Charges against Man City: What do rival clubs say about Premier League allegations?

(Photo: Getty Images)

https://theathletic.com/4177771/2023/02/10/pep-guardiola-press-conference-manchester-city/ Fact check: Were Manchester City found ‘innocent’ of UEFA allegations as Pep Guardiola said?

Russell Falcon

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