Tuesday 14 July 2020 19:31, UK
Pep Guardiola says Manchester City deserve an apology after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturned their two-year ban from European competition.
On Monday, CAS removed the suspension UEFA had handed to City - and reduced their initial €30m fine to €10m (£8.96m) - after finding "most of the alleged breaches reported were either not established or time-barred".
UEFA had accused City of breaking their Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules by overstating sponsorship revenue in their accounts and in the break-even information submitted between 2012 and 2016, as well as failing to co-operate with its investigation.
Guardiola believes City have had to put up with "whispering" from other clubs about their conduct off the field, but after CAS's ruling, he says: "We should be apologised [to].
"If we did something wrong, we will accept the decision. But we have the right to defend ourselves when we believe what we have done is correct. Three independent judges said this.
"Yesterday was a good day for football, because we played with the same Financial Fair Play rules as all the clubs in Europe. People said we were cheating and lying, and many times the presumption of innocence was not there.
"This club has tried for all history to do our best on the pitch. What we have done in the last decade is because of what happened on the pitch.
"The elite clubs have to understand we deserve to be here. We want to go on the pitch and compete with them. We deserve to get stronger year by year. We have incredible people working in this club to make our fans proud.
"We don't have to ask permission to be there; we deserve to be there. When we lose I will shake the hand of my opponent and will congratulate them.
"Guys, accept it. If you do not agree, just knock the door of our chairman or CEO and talk. Don't go from behind, whispering, like six, seven, eight, nine clubs do. Go and do it on the pitch. Let's go.
"We invest a lot of money, like a lot of clubs. But we did it on the right things - if not, we would have been banned. And we are not banned, because we followed the rules of Financial Fair Play."
Guardiola also hit out at La Liga president Javier Tebas, who reacted to City's ban being overturned by questioning the competence of CAS.
The City boss issued a sarcastic response to his fellow Spaniard, saying: "Senor Tebas must be so jealous of the Premier League and English football.
"He's an incredible legal expert. Next time we are going to ask him in which court and which judges will have to go.
"He has to worry about La Liga and focus there. But when the sentence is good for him, it is perfect - like what happened many times in Spain right now. But when the sentence is against, the problem is for the other ones.
"We will be in the Champions League next season, Senor Tebas, because what we did, we did it properly."
Financially, if City had been banned from European football for two seasons, they would have missed out on hundreds of millions in lost revenue on top of their original €30m fine.
A ban would also have raised questions over the futures of star names and manager Guardiola, while transfer targets may have been put off a move to the club and preferred other destinations where they could play in the Champions League.
Football finance expert Kieran Maguire told Sky Sports News: "This has significant implications for Manchester City.
"Participation in the Champions League is worth up to £150m a year, therefore by being allowed to compete in the competition for the next two seasons means we're probably talking somewhere between £200m and £250m.
"Even for a side with the resources of Manchester City, and the financial backing they have, it will allow them to go out in the transfer market and also pay competitive wages during that period."
He said: "In terms of attracting players, that was being questioned and whether current players would want to stay at the highest level so all of those things will be a relief.
"It also allows them to move forward, sign players and do the things that they want and it won't be held against them as in 'I'm not signing because you're not in Europe' or 'Pep's leaving because they're not a part of the Champions League', all that sort of stuff has gone away now."