Manchester City has filed a lawsuit against the Premier League, alleging “discrimination” and challenging the legality of the league’s associated party transaction (APT) rules. The club argues that these regulations, tightened in February to govern sponsorship deals with companies linked to club owners, are unfair and unlawful.

The newly crowned champions seek to abolish these rules and demand damages, according to The Times. The dispute will be resolved in a two-week arbitration hearing starting next Monday. City’s complaint centers on the claim that APT rules unfairly target their commercial arrangements, notably with Abu Dhabi-based sponsors like Etihad Airways.

This legal battle coincides with a separate case where City faces 115 charges for alleged financial misconduct between 2009 and 2023, which the club denies. This hearing is slated for November. City’s rapid ascent in English football has been bolstered by sponsorships from related Gulf entities, leading to scrutiny and tighter regulations.

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APT rules require clubs to demonstrate that their commercial deals reflect fair market value, aiming to maintain competitive balance within the league. City’s legal argument, detailed in a 165-page document, suggests these rules are a “tyranny of the majority” designed to suppress their success and protect the interests of other clubs.

If successful, City’s challenge could permit wealthier clubs to independently value sponsorship deals, potentially widening the financial disparities in the league. The Times reported that 10 to 12 clubs have submitted evidence supporting the Premier League’s defense against City’s claims.

City also alleges that the rules were implemented to counteract the Saudi takeover of Newcastle in 2021, accusing rival clubs of trying to “safeguard their own commercial advantages” and discriminating against Gulf ownership. The outcome of this legal battle could have significant implications for the financial and competitive landscape of the Premier League.

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