Manchester City have lost a ruling by the court of appeal, which confirms that the Premier League is continuing to investigate the champions for alleged breaches of financial fair play, with one of the judges stating part of the club’s argument was “entirely fanciful”.

City’s legal team did not want it reported that it was challenging the jurisdiction of Premier League arbitrators to investigate the case and that it was also fighting a request to disclose documents and information to the panel.

In March 2019 the Premier League said it was investigating City, as Uefa had already done. As with European football’s governing body, the league was interested in leaks to German publication Der Spiegel that claimed the breach of rules.

Last summer the court of arbitration for sport overturned City’s two-season Champions League ban from Uefa, saying that “most of the alleged breaches were either not established or time-barred.”

This, though, has not deterred the Premier League as Tuesday’s ruling underlines. City had lodged the appeal after a High Court judge ruled against the club with regard to the reporting of its dispute with the governing body.

Yet the three-judge Court of Appeal dismissed City’s argument. One of these, Sir Julian Flaux, the chancellor of the High Court, said: “The suggestion that press interest and speculation might disrupt the investigation or the arbitration, where both are being conducted by experienced professionals, is entirely fanciful. Likewise the suggestion that press comment and speculation following publication might damage the club’s relations with commercial partners was unconvincing.

“As Lord Justice Males [one of the other two judges] said during the course of argument, any potential commercial partner with whom the club might enter a contract would be bound to conduct due diligence, which would reveal the existence of the investigation and the dispute.”

As the arbitration was public knowledge the club’s argument that it cannot have a fair hearing was also dismissed. “[This] would seem to be a non-lawyer’s interpretation of the allegation of apparent bias,” Sir Julian said.

City strongly deny any wrongdoing regarding financial fair play. The Premier League supported the club’s argument regarding confidentiality but with the caveat that the league in the future “should be free to rely on and disclose the Merits Judgment in other arbitration proceedings against other member clubs”.

However, the court ruled this was actually a counterproductive argument. “It is difficult to envisage a more eloquent demonstration as to why publication of the Merits Judgment is in the public interest,” Sir Julian said.

Lord Justice Males noted the time that had elapsed since the Premier League launched its investigation. “This is an investigation which commenced in December 2018. It is surprising, and a matter of legitimate public concern, that so little progress has been made after two and a half years – during which, it may be noted, the club has twice been crowned as Premier League champions,” he said.

City released a statement saying: “We respect the decision of the Court of Appeal regarding the arbitration matter. The decision relates to ongoing proceedings and we are obviously not in a position to provide comment until those proceedings are complete.” The Premier League declined to comment.



READ NEWS SOURCE

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here