Guardiola would welcome UEFA FFP probe clarity to end rumors

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Pep Guardiola hopes a swift end to UEFA's probe over alleged Financial Fair Play irregularities committed by Manchester City will silence the speculation surrounding the case.
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Reuters

Midfielder Leroy Sane scores Manchester City’s first goal past Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster during their English Premier League match at Vicarage Road, Watford, on Tuesday. City won 2-1.

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

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said after an Executive Committee meeting of European football's governing body on Monday that an independent body looking into the allegations made by German magazine Der Spiegel as part of its Football Leaks campaign would provide answers "very soon".

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

Guardiola insisted the story hasn't been a distraction to his players, as City moved five points clear at the top of the EPL 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 because we will know exactly and to finish with these voices," said Guardiola.

"We will know if we did something irregular and if we didn't do something irregular, the people are going to finish talking about it."

It is claimed City bypassed UEFA's FFP rules, designed to restrict the losses clubs can make and therefore curb 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 on Tuesday, City was forced to defend deep in the final stages at Vicarage Road but ensured its title-chasing juggernaut kept rolling on with the 2-1 victory.

The defending champion, which is unbeaten in the league, was again without Argentina striker Sergio Aguero but close-season signing Riyad Mahrez showed his worth by setting up Leroy Sane for the first goal before scoring himself.

Bournemouth moved up to sixth with a 2-1 home win over lowly Huddersfield Town, while there were comfortable wins for West Ham United and 10-man Brighton & Hove Albion, the Hammers seeing off Cardiff City 3-1 and Brighton brushing aside fierce rival Crystal Palace by the same scoreline.

City was having trouble finding a way past Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster at Vicarage Road but the Englishman will not want to see the replay of him being beaten by the chest of Sane five minutes before the break after a Mahrez cross.

Algerian Mahrez then fired home himself shortly after halftime to set Guardiola's marauding side on the way to what looked like an easy victory.

Watford did not give up though and Abdoulaye Doucoure fired in from close range five minutes from time. The hosts, without a win since October, pushed City deep into its half but could not stop it claiming a 13th win in 15 league games this term.

Spectators have been accustomed to seeing City blowing teams away, particularly last season when it won the title with a record 100 points and scored a record number of goals.

It is not often that City resorts to clearing the ball high and away from its defense as it did near the end at Watford, but Guardiola said the result was the most important thing.

"For five minutes they were better than us. It is not about breaking records, it's winning games. You cannot win easily for 38 games, that is impossible," the Spanish coach said.

The focus on Wednesday was on second-placed Liverpool, which was visiting Burnley looking to cut the gap back to two points.

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