Champions League

Man City chairman demands to be judged on ‘facts’ in legal battle against Premier League

Man City chairman demands to be judged on ‘facts’ in legal battle against Premier League

Khaldoon Al-Mubarak voiced his ‘frustration’ at persistent whispering campaign surrounding City – Alamy Live News/Mark Pain

Khaldoon Al-Mubarak has demanded Manchester City be “judged by the facts and not by claims and counterclaims” as the club’s chairman voiced his “frustration” at the persistent whispering campaign around the Premier League champions.

City have launched an unprecedented legal action against the Premier League that has sparked civil war in England’s top flight and could yet impact the organisation’s 115 charges against the champions.

A two-week private arbitration hearing is to start on Monday at which City will argue that the League’s “associated-party” financial rules are unlawful and that they are the victims of “discrimination” from rival clubs who want to stifle their success in a “tyranny of the majority”.

Introduced in Dec 2021 in the wake of the Saudi-led takeover of Newcastle United, the Premier League’s Associated Party Transaction rules are designed to maintain the competitiveness of the competition by preventing clubs from inflating commercial deals with companies linked to their owners.

Should City succeed in their claim that the regulations are unlawful, the precedent could significantly weaken the Premier League case against the club for 115 alleged breaches of financial and other rules between 2009 and 2023.

Some of the accusations against City include claims the club concealed payments made by their Abu Dhabi owner, Sheikh Mansour, through third parties and disguised them as sponsorship revenue. City deny any wrongdoing, with the case potentially due to be heard later in the year.

City became the first club in English football history to win four successive league titles this season but their enormous success has drawn more and more attention to the allegations surrounding the club.

City became the first club in English football to win four successive league titles – Getty Images/Michael Regan

Al-Mubarak says City are frustrated by the aspersions cast in their direction as he urged rivals to await the outcome of the legal cases before judging the club.

Speaking in an interview with official club media at the weekend, before news of this month’s landmark battle with the Premier League dropped on Tuesday, the City chairman said: “Of course, it’s frustrating. I think the referencing is always frustrating. Having it being talked about the way it’s being talked about.

“I can feel for our fanbase, and everyone associated with the club, to have these charges constantly referenced.

“I think we as a club have to respect that there is a process that we have to go through, and we’re going through it. It’s taking longer than what anyone hoped for, but it is what it is, and I’ve always repeated, let’s be judged by the facts and not by claims and counterclaims.”

Al-Mubarak did not discuss the specifics of any of City’s legal cases in his end-of-season interview, which was carried out in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. But asked about the impact of the game’s financial regulations, he added: “I think the Premier League got to where it is today by being the most competitive league. So, I hope there is a bit more sensibility in regulating.

“Always a balanced approach is good from all the leagues, be it in England or the rest of Europe. I think you won’t see the same level as we’ve seen in the last years, because of the levels of regulations that have come into place over the last 12 months.”

When asked if he felt this would have an impact on the summer transfer window, with less cash for deals and more player swaps, Al-Mubarak said: “No, even that. Because there’s also been a lot of restrictions now put in place on swaps and loans, so even that is now much more restricted.

“So, I think the level of manoeuvrability that was in place before that allowed teams to do what they were able to do in the past, I think, is much more restricted this year and that’s going to be reflected, I believe, this summer.”

Al-Mubarak also made a point of referencing the sportsmanship and humility shown by City’s players and squad in the wake of winning a fourth title in a row against West Ham on the final day and after their FA Cup final defeat by Manchester United.

City were praised for being magnanimous in defeat after the FA Cup final – PA/Nick Potts

“I would share one of the things that I am particularly proud of,” he said. “In the last game of the season the chair of the Premier League, Alison [Brittain], delivered the trophy to Pep [Guardiola, the manager] and the team.

“She came back afterwards, and we had a conversation and she told me something that I think echoed very much in my heart. She said, ‘You know, you have to be very proud. I encountered something that was quite unique giving the trophy to the team. Every single member of the team, from coaching staff to players, looked me in the eye and said thank you with a smile and with respect and it’s quite remarkable. Normally in these things players are in a rush or are too busy’.”

“A week later, we had the FA Cup final. And the chair of the FA, Debbie [Hewitt], also ended up sending me a nice email after the final. She said, ‘We saw something very special in the FA Cup final. Obviously, commiserations on losing the game, but never have we seen in the FA Cup final a team put a guard of honour to the winning team. And Manchester City did that’.

“The way the players, the coaches, every member of Manchester City, from board members to management, the way we behaved, she said, was a great reflection of how this team is in terms of respect, humbleness and just the attitude. I think this is something that I am very, very proud of.

“It’s winning, it’s about winning of course, but it’s also about how you behave when you win, and how you behave when you lose. I think we have something very special in this club. This is why we are successful, and this is why I am confident we will continue to be successful.”

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