Man City launch shock Premier League legal case that could impact Liverpool and Everton

Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan
-Credit: (Image: Tom Jenkins/Getty Images)

Manchester City have started a legal battle against the Premier League having claimed they are the victims of "discrimination against Gulf ownership" by other top-flight clubs.

And the dispute could have enormous ramifications for rivals such as Liverpool and Everton and may have a significant bearing on November's hearing into City's 115 alleged breaches of Premier League financial rules.

The Times have reported City are intent on ending the league's Associated Party Transaction rules which they claim are unlawful, and are seeking damages from the Premier League.

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The rules were introduced in December 2021 after the Saudi-led takeover of Newcastle United and are aimed to stop clubs from exaggerating commercial deals with companies linked to their owners. For example, Abu Dhabi-owned City have United Arab Emirates airline Etihad Airways as their stadium and shirt sponsor, while Newcastle and Chelsea also have agreements with companies linked to their majority investors.

Such transactions have to be independently assessed to be of "fair market value".

City, who have won an unprecedented four Premier League titles in a row and six of the last seven, believe the financial rules are anti-competitive. Their case also includes a variety of other complaints against various legislature imposed by the governing body.

A two-week private arbitration hearing, which is due to start on Monday, will put City on course with many of their Premier League rivals with the one-time European champions arguing the league's democratic system of needing at least 14 clubs to implement rule changes gives the majority a level of control they deem as unacceptable.

The Times states that an 165-page legal document prepared by City claims they are the victims of "discrimination against Gulf ownership" and that the Associated Party Transaction rules were approved by rivals to stop their domination of the Premier League and are a "tyranny of the majority".

While it is claimed at least one Premier League club has submitted a written statement in support of City, more than half are said to be on the side of the governing body. City filed the case in February with written statements having to be submitted before the end of March. When contacted by the ECHO, the Premier League declined the invitation to comment.

Should City be successful in their legal battle, it would mean the richest clubs could value their sponsorship deals without independent assessment from the Premier League. And it would potentially weaken the case of the Premier League regarding City's 115 charges of alleged financial misconduct. If found guilty, City - who have always denied any wrongdoing - could face massive fines, points deductions or even relegation.

The case isn't the first time City have hinted at discrimination within the Premier League. In October 2022, one national newspaper reported Etihad insiders believed comments from then Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp were "borderline xenophobic" when stating "there are three clubs in world football who can do what they want financially" - an implicit reference to City and fellow Gulf-owned clubs Newcastle and Paris Saint-Germain.

Klopp later refuted such claims with the Football Association believing there was no cause to charge the German, a stance backed by anti-discrimination groups.