Pep Guardiola has implored Manchester City and the Premier League to resolve their disciplinary case as soon as possible for "the benefit of everyone" amid frustration at the whispering campaign surrounding the champions.
City clinched a fifth title in six seasons at the weekend and could yet become only the second club in English football history to win the treble with the finals of the FA Cup and Champions League still to play.
But a cloud continues to hang over the club after they were charged by the Premier League in February with 115 alleged rule breaches, three years after having a two-year European ban from Uefa for allegedly flouting Financial Fair Play regulations overturned on appeal.
It emerged last week that City have lodged legal challenges against the charges, and disputed the involvement of the Arsenal supporting barrister who is in charge of the disciplinary process, in a move that could further delay a case legal experts have estimated could take between two and four years to resolve.
But Guardiola has implored his own club and the Premier League to thrash out the case as quickly as possible after expressing serious misgivings about the prospect of it rumbling on for another two years or longer.
“What I would like is if the Premier League and judges could make something as soon as possible, then if we have done something wrong everybody will know it,” the City manager said ahead of his side’s penultimate league game, at Brighton, on Wednesday evening. “And if we are like we believe as a club – [that] for many years [we acted] in the right way – then the people will stop talking about that.
“We would love it [a resolution] tomorrow – this afternoon [would be] better than tomorrow. We would love it. Hopefully they are not so busy and the judges can see both sides and decide what is the best because, in the end, I know fairly what we won, we won on the pitch and we don’t have any doubts.”
Guardiola admitted long delays in the process would benefit no one and that it is incumbent on those involved to strive for a swift resolution.
“We accept it is there – if it happened it happened,” he said. “It was the same with Uefa and now the Premier League. [But] let’s go – 24 hours sit down and lawyers present. Don’t wait two years. Why don’t we do it quicker?
“Let’s have it [resolved] as soon as possible for the benefit of everyone. But I know there are many cases around the world and maybe they are so busy. Hopefully they can do it as soon as possible. We want to defend our principles and if people doubt, okay, let’s go. Let’s do it as soon as possible please.”
The charges – which relate to financial reporting span nine seasons from 2009/10 to 2017/18 – followed a four-year investigation by the Premier League. City could face an unprecedented range of punishments, including a suspension, points deductions, sweeping fines and the ultimate sanction of expulsion from the League if found guilty.
City strongly deny any wrongdoing and have said they would welcome the disciplinary commission’s hearing as a chance to put allegations of financial impropriety that have dogged the club for years “to rest once and for all” and have a “comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence that exists in support of its position.”
At the time, Guardiola accused Premier League rivals of a witchhunt against City and said the situation had left him feeling more committed to the club than ever. Guardiola signed a two-year contract extension last November to tie him to City until 2025 but, while insisting he would still be in charge at the Etihad Stadium next season, he was reluctant to look beyond that.
“I will stay next season while there are 110 breaches against us. Don't worry, we will be there,” he said.
Asked if he could see himself doing another three or four years, Guardiola replied: “No, no, no, these two [years left] are enough” before adding that he would reflect one season at a time.
When asked if he may consider it an appropriate moment to leave should City win the treble in the coming weeks, Guardiola said: “Right now I am not thinking about leaving but who knows, but I am not thinking.
“I would like to continue here next season, independent of the results. I would like it but I don’t know what [I’m] going to feel – winning or losing the two chances we have ahead of us. My feeling [is] I have a contract and when I sign I want to respect the club.”
City are not the only club facing Premier League charges with Everton also the subject of an investigation over their losses in a four-year period from the start of the 2018/19 season. Sean Dyche's side are unlikely to face any punishment this season, and go into the final day one place and two points clear of the relegation zone.