Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says he is incredibly happy after the club successfully overturned their ban from European club competitions.
On Monday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) cleared City of committing “serious breaches” of Financial Fair Play regulations between 2012 and 2016.
Uefa had issued a two-year ban in February.
“We can play in the Champions League next season because what we have done is right, is proper,” Guardiola said.
Cas cleared City of “disguising equity funds as sponsorship contributions” and cut the club’s fine from 30m euros (£26.9m) to 10m euros (£9m).
“[I’m] incredibly happy for the decision which shows what all the people said about the club was not true and to defend on the pitch what we won on the pitch,” said the Spaniard.
“Like I said many times, if we did something wrong we would accept the decision of Uefa and Cas because we did something wrong. We can defend ourselves. We have the right to defend ourselves when we believe what we have done is correct.”
In this year’s Champions League, City face Real Madrid in their last-16 second leg at Etihad Stadium on 7 August. They lead 2-1 from the first leg and will face Juventus or Lyon if they progress.
When asked about his future with last season’s Premier League champions, Guardiola said he was “happy” but added “now is not the time” to discuss a new contract. His current deal runs until the end of the 2020-21 season.
“We have made a step forward in 10 years. We invested a lot of money, like a lot of clubs. We did it the right way. We have not been banned because we followed the FFP rules. If we hadn’t we would have been banned,” Guardiola added.
“We showed it was not true. That’s why people have to be happy or should at least accept it.
“I would love to say, ‘look in our eyes and say something face to face and go out onto the pitch and play as rivals and after if you beat us, we will shake hands and congratulate you’.”
Reaction from around the Premier League
The decision to allow City to play in Europe next season means it is normal service in terms of qualification for the Champions League and Europa League from the English top flight.
The top four sides will qualify for the Champions League, while fifth and sixth place will progress into the Europa League.
Had the ban remained in place, with City now guaranteed a top-four domestic finish, the team finishing fifth would have qualified for the Champions League and the seventh-placed team would have got a Europa League spot.
Here’s what some of the other Premier League managers had to say:
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: “From a personal point of view, I’m happy Manchester City can play in next season’s Champions League, because if they have 12 games less, I don’t see any chance for any other teams in the Premier League.
“I don’t wish anything bad on anyone but I don’t think it was a good day for football. Financial Fair Play (FFP) is a good idea and it is there to protect teams and the competition.”
Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho: “If you’re not guilty you shouldn’t have a fine. I don’t know if Manchester City are guilty or not but either way it’s a disgraceful decision.”
Arsenal boss, and former Man City assistant manager, Mikel Arteta: “There is no question about what happened. They completely deserve to be in [the] Champions League because what they’ve done on the pitch is unquestionable and the regulators have looked at it and have decided that they haven’t done anything wrong.
“So you have the two aspects that are really clear and transparent and they’re going to be in Champions League because they deserve [it] for what they do on the pitch.”
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