Former Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has defended the club against the financial charges brought by the Premier League.
Last month City were charged with breaching the Premier League’s financial rules over 100 times between 2009 and 2018.
An independent panel will now conduct an investigation and come to a verdict. Should City be found guilty then punishments ranging from financial penalties to the stripping of titles are all on the table.
Pellegrini, who won one Premier League title and one League Cup during his three-year spell in charge at City, is back in Manchester this week. His Real Betis side will face Manchester United at Old Trafford on Thursday in the first leg of their Europa League round of 16 tie.
Ahead of the match, he was asked whether his Premier League title-winning campaign of 2013/14 will be tainted if City are found guilty.
“If anyone thinks that, they are wrong,” he said, via The Telegraph. “It is not tainted. What happened on the pitch is indisputable. I will always feel like a Premier League champion. We won it fairly.
“That league can’t be taken away because it’s already been lived,” he added, via MailSport.
“Imagine they take the trophy away – the runner-up is not now going to feel like the champion. Football is the moment. You win it with your people out there on the pitch.”
When asked directly about City’s spending before, during and after his tenure, he was even clearer on his stance.
“The criticism of City has always been very unjust. If there was an astronomical difference between clubs then maybe, but Chelsea were spending a fortune, United were spending a fortune, Liverpool were spending a fortune, Arsenal were spending a fortune.
“It’s not the case that one club wanted a player for 100 million and City came along and paid 200 million. That didn’t really happen.”
Instead of posing a threat to competitiveness in the Premier League, Pellegrini believes that the investment from City’s owners has actually improved the league for everyone.
“It’s like any economic activity: the more money there is, the better it is. Of course you need some sort of control but the more investment there is from both home and abroad the more attractive the league.”