Manchester City Sues Premier League Over Sponsorship Rules

Manchester City has reportedly initiated legal action against the English Premier League over the league’s sponsorship rules.

As reported by The Times, Manchester City put together a 165-page legal document to challenge the league’s Associated Party Transaction (APT) rules, which the club believes are unlawful. These rules are designed to prevent associated parties from agreeing to sponsorship deals that exceed fair market value. The 2021 takeover of Newcastle United by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund PIF had previously led to attempts by EPL clubs to change APT rules.

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The next step in the case will be a two-week private arbitration hearing before an independent tribunal, slated to begin June 10.

The Premier League declined to comment. Manchester City did not respond to Sportico‘s request to comment.

The lawsuit comes after the league announced it is preparing for a hearing on City’s alleged rule-breaking, involving 115 charges related to the league’s financial fair play. According to a report released by the Premier League in February last year, the eight-time EPL champions breached the league’s financial rules each season from 2008 to 2019. During that time, the team won three EPL titles (2012, 2014, 2018).

The Premier League also alleged that the club did not comply with UEFA regulations around club licensing and financial fair play from 2013-2015 and during the 2017-18 season.

In 2020, Man City was banned from UEFA’s European competitions for alleged breaches of financial fair play (FFP) regulations. However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned the sanction later that year.

Manchester City has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

In another claim reported to form part of the lawsuit, Man City has challenged the Premier League’s voting rules, which require 14 out of 20 clubs to vote in favor of any proposal for it to be adopted. The club argues that this system preserves “the tyranny of the majority.” According to the report, between 10 and 12 top-flight clubs have responded to a league request for submissions supporting its rules. Meanwhile, one club was reported to have provided testimony in support of the city’s claim.

Two weeks ago the club defeated West Ham 3-1 to claim the Premier League title for a fourth consecutive season and its sixth in seven seasons.

Sportico values Manchester city at $4.75 billion, ranking sixth among the top 50 most valuable soccer franchises in the world. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan bought City in 2008 for $388.5 million.

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