Man City make huge 'deliberate' claim about Newcastle's rivals in legal row as executive quoted

Manchester City have claimed that the Premier League's sponsorship rules were 'deliberately' changed to 'stifle the commercial freedoms' of clubs like Newcastle United.

Manchester City's arbitration hearing against the Premier League got under way last week and is slated to run until Friday. The champions have challenged the validity of the top-flight's associated party transaction (APT) regulations, which were introduced after Newcastle's takeover in 2021, to ensure all commercial deals with companies associated with clubs' owners were independently assessed to establish they were of fair market value.

Manchester City, who separately deny 115 alleged breaches of the top-flight's financial rules, have suggested that 18 rival clubs voted through the regulations in response to Newcastle's buy-out so that they could 'safeguard their own commercial advantages'. Manchester City, according to the Times, have claimed that their rivals set out to limit deals from companies in the Gulf region and the champions have cited a quote from a senior executive from another club after alleging there has been 'discrimination against Gulf ownership'.

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In Manchester City's 165-page legal argument, the champions stated that the rules were 'deliberately intended to stifle commercial freedoms of particular clubs in particular circumstances and, thus, to restrict economic competition'.

Top-flight chiefs executives previously insisted, off the record, that the APT rules had been in the pipeline for some time, but the speed and timing of their introduction following the takeover was rather telling amid fears Newcastle could land a series of lucrative commercial deals. These rules have since been tightened further this year to 'enhance the efficiency and accuracy of the system', which was the cue for Manchester City's legal action.