Inside Man City’s legal challenge to Premier League as club complain rules are BIASED towards London teams

MANCHESTER CITY’s legal bid to dismantle the Premier League rulebook could do far more than spark “civil war” within the top flight.

The Prem kings hope to end up with NO limits on funding from their UAE-based owners.

Man City owner Sheikh Mansour has spent big since the 2008 takeover

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Man City owner Sheikh Mansour has spent big since the 2008 takeoverCredit: Reuters
Manager Pep Guardiola and City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak celebrated a fourth Premier League title in a row last month

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Manager Pep Guardiola and City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak celebrated a fourth Premier League title in a row last monthCredit: Getty

City also claim the whole Prem stricture – where rule changes need a two-thirds majority – should be ditched.

Their legal bid could ignite huge divisions within the top flight – not to mention other dramatic implications.

Here, the Sun’s Chief Sports writer MARTIN LIPTON explains the situation.

He guides us through the potential process and how, if at all, it might affect the 115 Financial Fair Play Charges that City face.

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What is City’s claim?

City are arguing that the Prem’s “related party transaction” rules, demanding a “fair market value” test for any deals with companies owned by the club’s owners, are thrown out.

They also claim the longstanding Prem requirement for a two-thirds majority for any measure to be passed is unfair.

So they want that scrapped as well.

How did we get here?

Prem chiefs informed the other 19 clubs in February, ahead of the vote to bring in the new regulations, that a club – which was City – was challenging their legality.

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The vote was passed by 12 votes to six, with two clubs abstaining – the absolute bare minimum.

Within a fortnight, City had lodged their legal claim to go to Arbitration.

Explain Arbitration, then

Under Prem rules, any dispute can be settled by “final and binding arbitration” – a legal hearing conducted by three senior lawyers, one appointed by each side and the third confirmed by the two respective parties.

A majority decision is allowed: “The award shall be final and binding on the parties and there shall be no right of appeal”. The hearing is scheduled to last from June 10-21.

Now what happens?

City’s lawyers, including Lord Pannick KC, will make the case that the new regulations were unfair, unlawful and deliberately targeted at City and their Gulf owners.

One element of the claim is that the rules were designed to “stifle commercial freedoms” of state-owned clubs and “restrict economic competition” while being biased in favour of London-based clubs who can charge higher ticket prices.

They also argue that the Prem’s deal-valuers, Nielsen Sports, are not independent because they have been used by the League for two seasons. The voting system is a “tyranny of the majority” and is no longer fit for purpose.

And the response?

Prem lawyers will strongly rebut those claims and point to the fact that City have long been party to the regulations and have indeed used the two-third majority requirement to previously block measures they were opposed to.

Pep Guardiola set for final Man City season

By Martin Blackburn

AFTER eight glorious years of stability, Manchester City now head into an uncertain 12 months.

And Saturday’s FA Cup final defeat to neighbours United was a reminder that this glittering and unforgettable era will not go on for ever.

Around this time in 2025, City will be preparing for the highly-lucrative Fifa Club World Cup in the US.

Yet in all likelihood they will also be getting ready to say their goodbyes to manager Pep Guardiola, who has brought so much success to the east side of Manchester.

Meanwhile, there could be a verdict on 115 charges of financial irregularity which have been levelled at the club by Premier League chiefs.

The suggestion is the hearing could start later this year but is likely to take several months to reach a conclusion.

City continue to deny any wrongdoing and are confident they will be cleared by the independent commission.

Read Martin Blackburn’s full column here.

What do the other clubs say?

Newcastle and Chelsea – both of whom have big money sponsorship deals with related parties – are almost certainly in City’s corner.

But at least half, if not more, of the 20 clubs, will be lining up legal submission in support of the Prem and the current rulebook.

They want the rules to stay – and they do not want to lose potentially millions of pounds in damages if City win.

If City win, what does that mean?

A free for all in terms of club funding – but only in the Prem as Uefa regulations remain in place.

But the end of the two-thirds majority rule opens up a whole raft of votes that could transform the League.

After all, more than half of the Prem now have American owners. They might want games played in the USA, a closed league with no relegation, a change in the way the TV revenues are shared out.

If it’s a pure majority, anything goes. Along with the current Prem executives.

Are there repercussions for the infamous ‘115 charges’ against City?

Not obviously. City might argue that the rules under which they have been charged no longer exist – but that’s like saying you shouldn’t be charged for speeding at 38 in a 30mph zone now it’s been made a 40mph zone.

The rules that matter are those that were in place at the time.

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City’s case has always been that they did not break the rules and that no sources of sponsorship cash were hidden, not that the rules should not exist.

When will we know the outcome?

That’s entirely in the hands of the Arbitrators. They can rule immediately or – more likely – consider the merits of the case before publishing a final ruling.

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