Judge rules against Manchester City over fair play regulations

Premier League argued that City bosses used ‘procedural applications and complaints’ as a delaying tactic.

High Court judge rules against Manchester City
High Court judge rules against Manchester City

Premier League bosses criticised Manchester City’s tactical approach after beginning an investigation following allegations that Uefa’s financial fair play regulations had been breached, a High Court judge has said.

League bosses asked the club to disclose “certain documents and information” and began a private arbitration process against City under Premier League rules.

City bosses had challenged the “jurisdiction” of the arbitrators and asked Mrs Justice Moulder to consider the case at a High Court hearing.

Lawyers representing the Premier League disagreed with City’s jurisdiction complaint.

They argued that City bosses’ “tactic” was to make as many “procedural applications and complaints” as they could, in order to “slow the day” when documents would have to be provided.

Mrs Justice Moulder ruled against City and details of the Premier League’s criticism have emerged in her written ruling on the case, which was published on Thursday.

The judge, who is based in London, had made the ruling in March, after considering arguments at a private High Court hearing.

But publication was delayed because City bosses argued that the ruling should stay under wraps. Mrs Justice Moulder had concluded that her ruling should be made public. Lawyers representing City disagreed and challenged her decision in the Court of Appeal.

Three appeal judges earlier this week dismissed City’s challenge and said the ruling should be published.

Mrs Justice Moulder explained in the ruling: “For the Premier League it was submitted that the tactic that the club has adopted has been to make as many procedural applications and complaints as it possibly can in order to slow the day when it will actually have to provide the documents and information.”

The judge said it had not been necessary for her to decide whether City’s “challenge” had been “tactical”. She said she had ruled against City for a number of other legal reasons.

Premier League bosses had begun an investigation into City in December 2018 after saying media reports contained information suggesting breaches of Premier League rules.

Judges heard that allegations in the media reports led to Uefa starting an investigation over alleged breaches of Uefa financial fair play regulations. That investigation initially led to City being banned from Uefa competitions for two years and fined 30 million euros.

The ban was subsequently overturned, and the fine reduced to 10 million euros, by a tribunal in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in July 2020

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