Premier League spends millions fighting Liverpool's rivals as Man City case begins

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 6: An official Aerowsculpt Nike Premier League 2023/24 match ball placed for a corner during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Brentford FC at Villa Park on April 6, 2024 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images)
-Credit: (Image: Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images)

The Premier League spent millions of pounds fighting its own clubs last season, a new report has revealed.

An exclusive from The Times states that the English top flight shelled out nearly £30m on legal counsel as the rising cost of enforcing its Profit and Sustainability Rules (PSR) emerges.

Liverpool's Merseyside rivals Everton fell foul of the new rules twice in the 2023-24 campaign. They were initially hit with a 10-point deduction, which was later reduced to six points on appeal, for breaching spending limits for the three-year period to 2021-22.

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Everton were then handed a two-point deduction for breaking the rules for the three-year period to 2022-23. The Blues initially appealed against that verdict before withdrawing the appeal after the club secured its Premier League survival.

Nottingham Forest, meanwhile, were docked four points for breaching the spending threshold for the three-year period to 2022-23. Their appeal against the decision was rejected.

But while those cases have been settled, the spectre of PSR continues to loom large over the Premier League. In March, Leicester City were charged by the league for allegedly breaking the rules during their last three seasons in the top flight.

Leicester will return to the Premier League next season after winning the Championship and if the charge is proven, they could be hit with a points deduction.

The Times report that the "present figure in the league’s accounts for use of external counsel is listed as £22m, but is projected to rise to £28m." They also that figure "includes only the beginnings of the case brought by Manchester City against the Premier League in February."

It came to light earlier this month that Man City have started a legal battle against the top flight. The defending champions are intent on ending the league's Associated Party Transaction rules, which they claim are unlawful, and are seeking damages from the Premier League. The legal challenge is being held over the next two weeks.

Man City, who last season won the title for the fourth time in a row, were charged with 115 breaches of the Premier League's PSR rules in February 2023. The hearing against those charges is expected to begin in November. The club deny any wrongdoing.

Both cases will significantly increase the legal costs of the Premier League. Any appeal from Man City or Leicester - as was the case with Everton and Forest - would only increase the expense.

The Times also state that "an investigation into Chelsea, past and present, is also ongoing, further racking up legal expense."