After Everton were slapped with a record 10-point deduction by the Premier League last week, Manchester City are now under scrutiny for alleged financial misconduct spanning across several years. Buckle up for this legal battle.

Ahead of their match against Liverpool on Saturday, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was confronted with renewed allegations that his club had breached over 100 league rules on their path to dominating English football.

Guardiola maintained his stance during a news conference on Friday, urging patience and stating that they would accept whatever decision is made.

“[Let’s] wait until the sentence [judgment],” Guardiola said. “I know [some] are in a hurry but I know what happened with Uefa. Just wait. We are innocent and people have to know we are innocent until the sentence.

“They decided to bring a regulation to make football more equal and laws must be respected,” said Guardiola. “We are under scrutiny and I’m a big fan of following the rules properly. If you do something wrong, you must be punished. If Uefa and Fifa decide on having FFP I support that completely.”

Everton’s severe punishment has sparked speculation about potential sanctions against City, which could range from a points deduction to expulsion from the top division of English football.

Guardiola insisted that the two cases were different and that they disagreed with the accusations leveled against them. He pledged to defend the club and speak on its behalf once a resolution is reached.

“What people accuse us of we do not agree with,” he said. “We are going to defend [ourselves] and after the resolution is done, I will be here, like a spokesman for my club. I want to say the case for Everton, and I don’t know what happened, but only I know from the lawyers and people at my club that they are completely different cases. That’s why you cannot compare because every case is completely different

“Maybe you know but I asked our team and they are two completely different cases. I know when people are saying: ‘OK, City – why don’t they go to the Conference?’ Wait. Wait. And after what’s going to happen is going to happen.”

The league has accused City of numerous breaches, including providing misleading financial information over a nine-year period from 2009-18, during which they signed several world-class players like Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne.

The league has outlined about 80 alleged breaches of its financial rules and accused City of 30 more, related to their supposed failure to cooperate with the investigation.

Chelsea is also reportedly under investigation for potential financial breaches under its former owner, Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.

City has spent heavily since being acquired by Abu Dhabi’s ruling family in 2008, becoming one of Europe’s most powerful teams and winning the Premier League, FA Cup, and finally the Champions League last season.

The Premier League’s allegations followed a four-year investigation and the publication of leaked emails and documents, likely hacked, that were published starting in 2018 by German magazine Der Spiegel. The documents allegedly showed attempts to cover up the source of the club’s income in a bid to comply with Financial Fair Play rules operated by European soccer body UEFA and the league.

City stated in February that it had “irrefutable evidence” to put the matter to rest “once and for all.”

If City is found guilty, it has been speculated that the punishment could be more severe than Everton, which was given the biggest sporting sanction in the league’s 31-year history for breaching its financial rules.

Everton was found by an independent commission to have made a loss of £124.5 million ($214 million CAD) over three years up to the end of the 2021-22 season. Clubs are allowed to lose a maximum of £105 million pounds ($180.54 million CAD) over a three-year period.

“If you look at the ruling, it’s interesting from a legal perspective. They ask whether there should be a formula for this type of punishment,” said sports lawyer Chris Farnell, who has worked as an external lawyer for Everton in the past.

He suggested that a formula would provide clubs with a “worst-case scenario” in such cases and the lack of one means a variety of sanctions, such as expulsion, are “in play.” Farnell added that this could pose problems for Manchester City’s legal advisors.

UEFA slapped Manchester City with a two-year ban from European competitions, but that landmark punishment was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2020 after a UEFA-appointed panel found “serious breaches” of financial rules from 2012-16. The league’s accusations in February presented renewed questions about City’s financial dealings.

Guardiola, who has led City to become the most dominant team in English soccer and won five titles in the last six seasons, claimed that the club has already been “condemned” before having its case heard.

When asked if there would be a punishment severe enough to make him consider his future at City, Guardiola responded, “I will answer when I have the sentence. You are questioning like we have been punished. And in the moment we are innocent until guilt is proven.

“I will not consider my future [if] it depends on being here [Premier League] or being in League One. Absolutely. There is more chance to stay if we are in League One than if we were in the Champions League.”

Guardiola is a loyal man. Just try to fathom for one second the squad he would field in League One. Would make for one hell of an episode of Welcome to Wrexham, because Ryan Reynold’s League Two side are on the path for back-to-back promotions.