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Three reasons Man City are suing the Premier League in unprecedented action

Man City are taking legal action against the Premier League in what could turn into a bitter courtroom battle next week. 

A private arbitration hearing will take place over the course of a fortnight starting from Monday to settle the dispute – but what is being adjudicated exactly?

As The Times reported on Tuesday, Man City are challenging the league’s Associated Party Transaction (APT) rules, which they deem to be uncompetitive and unlawful, and seek damages.

The rules, which were introduced in the wake of the Saudi Public Investment Fund’s takeover of Newcastle United in 2021, are designed to maintain the competitiveness of the English top flight by preventing clubs from inflating commercial deals with companies linked to their owners. Such transactions have to be independently assessed to be of “fair market value” before they can approved.

The reports says that at least ten clubs will join the Premier League in their defence of the claims made by Man City, while at least one club have apparently submitted a witness statement in support of the north west outfit.

It’s an extraordinary step taken by the champions, one which could cause major ructions in the footballing landscape. We’ve dived into a few of the key reasons why they have chosen to do so.

Three reasons why Man City are suing the Premier League:


It’s the thing everything boils down to at the end of the day, particularly in the Premier League: money.

Man City claim that APT rules have cost them potentially millions of pounds in sponsorship and commercial dealings. They argue that sponsors linked to club owners should be allowed to pay whatever they want, regardless of independent valuation.

The club’s owners are based in Abu Dhabi, and four of their biggest sponsors are from the United Arab Emirates. A loosening of the rules would allow them to extract more money from associated parties that they can spend on their squad.

Read – De Bruyne ‘open’ to Saudi transfer as Man City prepare replacement


The Premier League requires a ‘supermajority’ for any rule changes, meaning 14 of the 20 clubs must agree on a motion.

Man City argue that this gives their rivals hold disproportionate power and they are victims of the “tyranny of the majority”. They also accuse rival clubs of “discrimination against Gulf ownership”.

If the threshold was lowered to a simple majority, then Man City’s vote at the ballot box is theoretically more influential.

Read – Five of the best free transfers of all time

The 115 charges

Lingering in the background are the 115 charges levelled against Man City by the Premier League, a case that is due to be heard in the autumn. The club are accused of breaching financial rules and concealing funding from owner Sheikh Mansour through third parties.

This lawsuit may be something of a distraction tactic, as the Premier League are forced to commit resources to defend themselves in next week’s hearing. The league have apparently seen their legal costs quadruple to £20m in the past year.

More importantly, if Man City were to come out victorious in their lawsuit and the Premier League’s rules were indeed found to be unlawful, it could benefit them greatly in their defence against the 115 charges.

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