'City's legal challenge is seismic – future of Premier League is at risk'


Manchester City’s legal claim against the Premier League, first revealed in The Times, has made headlines up and down the country in Wednesday’s newspapers.

The Times reports City are attempting to end the Premier League’s Associated Party Transaction (APT) rules.

Those rules regard commercial and sponsorship deals with companies owned or associated with the same club’s owners.

As things stand, those rules dictate such transactions have to be independently assessed to be of fair market value.

The Times claims City believe the rules are “unlawful” and they want to seek damages for revenue lost by preventions made by those rules.

Here’s how a selection of the other newspapers and national journalists reacted to the news…

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Sky Sports News’ Kaveh Solhekol explains why Manchester City are ‘launching legal action’ against the Premier League and the possible ramifications

Winter: This is seismic – future of PL at risk

Speaking on Sky Sports’ Back Pages Tonight, football writer and broadcaster Henry Winter stated the future of the Premier League could be at risk as a result of City’s actions.

He said: “This is seismic and is relating to the future of the Premier League, which is being put at risk by Manchester City’s behaviour.

“Phrases that City’s lawyers have been throwing around, like ‘the tyranny of the majority’ – which is a phrase which means the oppressing of smaller groups. I don’t think anyone looks at Manchester City as the oppressed.

“They have the best manager in the world in Pep Guardiola – alongside Carlo Ancelotti. They have the best player in Phil Foden. They’ve won the title four times, have fantastic subs on the bench, have a fantastic stadium, an amazing training ground. They don’t look oppressed to me.

“The winners will be the lawyers and this could just be a counter-strike because they want to distract or place pressure on the Premier League ahead of the 115 charges, which City deny.

“This just reeks. Who runs the game in this country? Should it be the democracy of the Premier League, with the 14 majority of teams who vote things through? Or should English football be run from Saudi (Arabia) or Abu Dhabi?”

Daily Telegraph: Court battle would do ‘immeasurable damage’

In the Daily Telegraph, Sam Wallace’s opinion piece takes aim at City’s willingness to do “immeasurable damage” to the Premier League.

He writes: “The Premier League clubs who break bread with their Manchester City counterparts at their annual general meeting in Yorkshire this week at least know now what they are up against: a complete demolition of the financial controls that protect the league’s competitiveness.

 Kyle Walker lays out secret of Manchester City's four-in-a-row
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Man City won their fourth consecutive Premier League title this season

“City are the most dominant side in the history of English league football. All the rest of the game is asking, is that they comply with the rules that they signed up to.

“Now they are on the attack. They wish to dismantle the dynamic that has made the Premier League less iniquitous and more successful than European rivals. Part of which is an acknowledgement that while some clubs are richer than others, none should be allowed unlimited owner-equity investment.

“They will know that dragging the Premier League and their fellow clubs to court does immeasurable damage. Yet it would appear the edict from Abu Dhabi is irresistible.”

Daily Mail: Do City want to force PL lawyers away from 115 charges?

Writing in the Daily Mail, Mike Keegan cites unnamed sources who believe City’s legal challenge is partly motivated to move the Premier League’s lawyers away from their existing work on the 115 historical financial charges they face – which The Times has claimed will be heard in November.

He writes: “There is a view among some that the move is a tactic by City, aimed at forcing the top flight’s lawyers away from their work on the 115 charges.

Pep Guardiola led Man City to a fourth successive Premier League title
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Pep Guardiola has been at the Etihad since 2016

“City have enlisted no fewer than three KCs to their legal team. Citing the 1998 Competition Act, they want damages for losses they say they have incurred ‘as a result of the unlawfulness of the FMV (Fair Market Value) rules’.

“They add that the rules were instigated by rival clubs following the Saudi takeover of Newcastle to ‘safeguard their own commercial advantages’ and used a quote from a senior executive which they say proves rivals wished to limit deals from outfits in the Gulf region.

“City also say the lack of rules on spending when Manchester United were more dominant mean they cannot monetise their brand in the manner of their cross-town rivals.

“In what appears to be a swipe at the established elite, they also claim the rules penalise those with ‘lower-profile sporting histories’.”

The Times: City’s audacity is staggering

Owen Slot, the chief sports writer at The Times, accused City of “staggering audacity”, adding they are attempting to render “the competition redundant”.

He wrote: “This latest news tells us that, from this position of unprecedented dominance, they actually intend to run away from the rest of the pack.

“In the midst of the legalese, the end-game here is frightening. It is not about being frontrunners in the Premier League, it is more about rendering the competition redundant because, if you lift financial constraints – which is what they are fighting for in court – then you create a two-horse race for nation state-owned clubs, with Chelsea, whose owners are partly Saudi-funded, trundling along in third.

“This is the nuclear option. This legal challenge by City is a battle about cutting loose from the rules and in so doing, it would cut them loose from the other 19 clubs. Sorry, the other 18 clubs. Newcastle will have a fingers-crossed, front-row seat in the gallery.

“There are some elements to this legal challenge that are staggering in their audacity. City are challenging the Associated Party Transaction (APT) rules that the Premier League signed up to in December 2021.

“Yet, like all the clubs, City had themselves signed off on the new rules. They may not have voted for them but as signatories to the Premier League agreement, they nevertheless put their name to them and agreed to abide by them.

“That is how the Premier League works; it is a private club governed by the majority vote.”



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