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Pep perturbed as FFP probe clouds City's inexorable ascent

China Daily | Updated: 2018-12-06 09:47
Manchester City's Vincent Kompany beats Watford's Troy Deeney to a header during Tuesday's English Premier League match at Vicarage Road. Goals from Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez earned City a 2-1 victory as it moved five points clear of second-place Liverpool at the top of the English Premier League standings. [Photo/Agencies]

WATFORD, England-Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola hopes a swift conclusion to UEFA's investigation over alleged Financial Fair Play (FFP) irregularities committed by the Premier League champion will silence speculation surrounding the case.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said on Monday an independent body looking into the allegations made by German magazine Der Spiegel as part of their 'Football Leaks' campaign would provide answers "very soon".

Reports on Tuesday claimed City could even be banned from next season's Champions League should it be found guilty.

Guardiola said the story hasn't been a distraction to his squad, which moved five points clear at the top of the Premier League on Tuesday with a 2-1 win at Watford.

However, the Catalan coach is hoping for an end to what he described as "voices" surrounding the club's business.

"If UEFA found something, the club will make a statement and I'd like to do that too because we will know exactly and be finished with these voices," said Guardiola.

"We will know if we did something irregular and if we didn't do something irregular, the people will be finished talking about it."

It is claimed City bypassed UEFA's FFP rules, designed to restrict the losses clubs can make and therefore lavish spending on player transfers and wages, by allowing its Abu Dhabi-based sponsors to make cash injections and backdate sponsorship contracts.

A member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family, Sheikh Mansour, has owned City since 2008, transforming the club by investing billions of pounds in players and the club's facilities.

In a repeated statement, City said it would not comment on what it described as "out-of-context materials purportedly hacked or stolen from City Football Group and Manchester City personnel and associated people".

On the pitch, City was made to work for a 2-1 win at Watford on Tuesday, with goals either side of halftime earning a victory that sent the visitor five points clear of second-place Liverpool, which was due to travel to Burnley on Wednesday night.

City winger Leroy Sane chested home to end Watford's resistance before Riyad Mahrez swept home early in the second period.

However, City had to withstand a nervy finish after Abdoulaye Doucoure bundled home five minutes from time.

"It was a good old Premier League game," said City captain Vincent Kompany.

"As soon as they scored, long balls started coming. They are an extremely physical team up front.

"I thought we managed the game pretty well. You can't win every game playing fantasy football."

Still without the injured Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne, Guardiola made six changes to his starting XI, yet City was still too strong for the host.

A string of brilliant saves from Hornets goalkeeper Ben Foster helped avoid a thrashing similar to the 5-0 and 6-0 romps City enjoyed on its previous visits to Vicarage Road.

AFP

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