Manchester City Files Legal Action Against Premier League

Manchester City Files Legal Action Against Premier League
Manchester City Files Legal Action Against Premier League

Manchester City has initiated legal proceedings against the Premier League, a source has revealed to ESPN. The club is contesting the Premier League’s Associated Party Transaction (APT) rules, arguing that they are unlawful. A private arbitration hearing is slated to commence next week.

City has accused the Premier League of “discrimination against Gulf ownership” and is seeking damages, as initially reported by The Times. Since 2008, Manchester City has been under the ownership of the Abu Dhabi United Group.

The Premier League’s ATP rules, first introduced in 2021 after the Saudi-backed acquisition of Newcastle United, were further tightened in February to regulate sponsorship deals between clubs and companies linked to their owners. All 20 Premier League clubs were briefed in February that one club had threatened legal action in response to these tightened rules.

Manchester City, which has sponsorship agreements with Etihad Airways, argues that sponsors should have the autonomy to decide their payment amounts without needing independent verification to confirm fair market value. The club contends that the Premier League’s regulations infringe upon competition law.

City’s legal action comes as the club also prepares to defend itself against charges of breaching Premier League financial regulations. In February 2023, City was hit with 115 charges following a four-year investigation. The hearing for these charges is set to begin in November, and potential penalties could include fines, points deductions, or even expulsion from the Premier League.

The club, which has won six of the last seven Premier League titles, has consistently asserted its innocence regarding the charges, maintaining that it has a “body of irrefutable evidence” to support its defense.

A spokesperson from Manchester City stated, “We believe the Premier League’s actions and rules are not only discriminatory but also in violation of competition law. We are confident that the legal process will reveal the unfairness and unlawfulness of these rules.”

The Premier League has yet to comment on the matter. As Manchester City continues to dominate English football, the outcome of this legal battle could have significant implications for the club and the broader governance of sponsorship in the Premier League.

Image courtesy Deposit Photos.

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