Tuesday 23 January 2018

Arsene Wenger: Ban Manchester City from the Champions League

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
Jack Wilshere

Jeremy Wilson

ARSENE WENGER has called on UEFA to clarify its punishments for breaches of Financial Fair Play and suggested that clubs such as Manchester City should simply be excluded from the Champions League.

"You would think you accept the rules and you're in the competition or you don't accept the rules and you're not in the competition – then everybody would understand it," the Arsenal manager said.

City, along with Paris St-Germain, are among nine clubs to have failed the new UEFA regulations that limited the financial losses between 2011 and 2013 to £37.2m.

UEFA's proposed punishment is a £50m fine plus a reduction in the size of City's squad for next season's Champions League from 25 to 21 players, of whom eight must be locally trained and four club-trained.

Wenger has been encouraged this week by UEFA's willingness to sanction major clubs, but would still like the punishments to be simplified.

He also said there was "something wrong" when a club who have breached the Financial Fair Play rules are also likely to win the Premier League.


"I'm a complete supporter of Financial Fair Play, because I think that every business should live within its own resources like in any other activity," Wenger added.

"For the punishment, I think it's a sophisticated punishment. I would like a more simple one that makes more sense, but they have studied that for a very long time certainly to be in accordance with the legal side of it. There are rules. You respect them or you don't respect them. If you don't respect them you have to be punished.

"When UEFA doesn't want to kick the clubs out of the Champions League they have to find a more subtle punishment. To me, and from all of us on the outside, it looks a complicated punishment."

When it was put to him that it would be "odd" for City to be English champions after breaching UEFA rules, Wenger said: "Of course there is something wrong, but I plead for that for years.

"There's two ways of thinking about the whole process. You can say, 'We don't care, we want the billionaires to buy the big players, they spend what they want', or you say, 'We want to keep things fair'.

"Basically, if you say to me tomorrow we give everybody £100m in the 20 Premier League clubs, I say, 'Okay, I'll take the gamble'. That is a fair competition.

"The unfair thing is the inflation can be too big and it can put too much pressure on the clubs who do not have these resources to overpay their players."

Asked if the answer would be to publish the salaries of players, Wenger said: "Basically, it comes to that."

Wenger also stressed that he was confident Laurent Koscielny would soon sign an extended contract at Arsenal, but appears increasingly resigned to the loss this summer of Bacary Sagna.

The France right-back is out of contract at the end of the season and, with both City and PSG interested, has turned down a series of offers from Arsenal.

Wenger has also begun looking at other options, including the Southampton right-back Calum Chambers, although he does not expect to make any signings until after the World Cup.

Of Koscielny, Wenger said: "It's close to be closed."

Regarding Sagna, he added: "That is not close to be closed. If he goes, we will accept it and respond."

Wenger also said that he was now so focused on the FA Cup final against Hull City that he would not finalise his own new contract until after the domestic season ends on May 17.

Jack Wilshere is set to stake his claim for a place in the Gunners' line-up for Wembley by returning to the squad for their final Premier League match of the season at Norwich, but fellow England World Cup hopeful Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remains sidelined.

Wilshere has not featured since suffering a fractured foot suffered while on international duty in the friendly against Denmark on March 5.

The 22-year-old should be involved in some capacity at Carrow Road against the all-but-relegated Canaries, before then looking to sharpen his fitness ahead of the FA Cup final and England's pre-World Cup training camp in Miami – provided he is picked in Roy Hodgson's squad.

"We have everybody who played against West Brom available. We could have the return of (Aaron) Ramsey and Wilshere could be in the squad as well for Sunday," said Wenger.

"I don't know how much game-time he will get), but will be ready for the World Cup. For the rest, I do not want to make an individual case of anybody. What is important is the team and that we prepare well as a team."

Oxlade-Chamberlain, who missed several months with a serious knee injury suffered on the first Premier League game of the season, has been hampered by a groin problem since his return and will not be rushed.

"He has not at all practiced with the first team," said Wenger.

Full-back Kieran Gibbs, who has not played since the FA Cup semi-final penalty shoot-out win over Wigan because of a hamstring injury, is also set to return on Sunday having joined full training again.

Despite Norwich, because of a far inferior goal difference, effectively being down after Sunderland won against West Brom on Wednesday night, and Arsenal already secure in fourth spot, Wenger maintains there will be no let-up ahead of the FA Cup final on May 17.

"We go there to try to win the game," he insisted. "We want to finish on a high. We want to make 79 points, as I said last week, to make it as tight as possible to the top.

"I think we had a good away season apart from some big games, but overall we were very consistent away from home and it is important we finish well away from home." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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