Premier League charges ‘frustrating’, says Manchester City chairman – Sport

LONDON: Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has admitted it is “frustrating” that the club’s success is constantly tempered by reminders of the 115 Premier League charges against them.

City are facing charges for alleged breaches of regulations and financial rules between 2009 and 2023 — charges they strongly deny.

Khaldoon said it was “frustrating” to hear repeated references to the charges as Abu Dhabi-owned City closed in on their historic fourth consecutive Premier League title.

Speaking to the club’s internal media in his annual end-of-season address, Khaldoon said: “Of course, it’s frustrating. I think the reference is always frustrating.

“Having it being talked about the way it’s being talked about, I can feel, of course, for our fan base, for everyone associated with the club, to have these charges constantly referenced.

“We as a club have to respect that there’s a process that we have to go through, and we’ll go through it. It’s taking longer than anyone hoped for but it is what it is.”

He also urged football authorities to show “more sensibility” in how they police the game’s finances.

Khaldoon made the remarks before The Times newspaper reported on Tuesday that City had issued a legal claim challenging the validity of the Premier League’s associated party transaction (APT) rules.

The rules relate to clubs signing sponsorship deals with companies linked to their owners.

The Times reported City had launched legal action against the Premier League alleging “discrimination” — a move that could have far-reaching consequences.

The Times said City would try to end the APT rules, which they are understood to claim are unlawful, and seek damages.

The Premier League tightened rules regarding APTs in February.

City’s rapid rise has been aided by sponsorship deals with a series of related parties in the Gulf. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways is both City’s stadium and shirt sponsor.

Meanwhile, clubs involved in competitions run by European governing body UEFA next season will only be able to spend 80 per cent of revenue on squad costs such as player wages, transfer and agents’ fees, with the figure dropping to 70pc thereafter.

Khaldoon said, “I hope there’s a bit more sensibility in regulating, (that there is) always a balanced approach.

“This is good for all the leagues, be it in England or the rest of Europe. I think you won’t see the same level (of transfer spending) as we’ve seen in the past few years because of the level of regulations that have come into place over the last 12 months.”

The Times reported City’s challenge to the APT rules will be aired at an arbitration hearing starting on Monday. If City are successful, it could spell the end of the APT system and leave clubs free to strike commercial deals without independent oversight.

Khaldoon also said he was confident of finding the “right solution” regarding manager Pep Guardiola’s future at the club.

Guardiola, whose contract runs until 2025, cast doubt over his long-term future at the Etihad after completing the fourth consecutive league title last month, admitting it was difficult to find motivation after so much sustained success.

“With Pep, we’ve had this conversation many times before over the years of the contract,” Khaldoon said. “Pep has always been fully committed to this club, fully committed to every contract he’s signed with us.

“The decision on his future is always a decision we take together, and I have no doubt we will find, as we always have done, the right solution that works for Pep and works for us.”

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2024

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