How the PL clubs’ legal teams have started to become more important than the players

By Tony Attwood

This summer Manchester City has brought in three players: Darío Sarmiento, Jack Grealish, and Kayky.   I am not sure how many more lawyers the club has brought in so far this summer but I do know they are still looking for at least four more, because in the legal press at the moment there are advertisements like this:

Looking for a job:

City Football Group (Manchester, UK)

Now as we know Manchester City & Co are currently involved in fighting a legal case against the Premier League that is so taking so long that even the senior judges noticed it.   Indeed recently the Court of Appeal were more critical of the Man C legal team than I have ever known them to be in such a case.

So why are Manchester City more interested in recruiting lawyers than they are in recruiting players?   Or put another way why are they so keen to fight the Premier League all the way, no matter how long it takes?

One reason of course must be that it is successful.  They managed to drag out the case against them by Uefa for so long that by the time Uefa managed to get its appeal documentation into the Court of Arbitration in Sport, they were out of time.

But when you see a company recruiting more lawyers than key employees, generally speaking you learn something about that company.

And as I have said many times before, I’ve no special evidence on this, any more than I have on the fact that Fifa have kicked out the team that was running football in African football in order to launch their own African Super, ahead of running their own European Super League. I just follow the reports.

Of course most of the English papers ignore the story while the European papers are lapping it up.  Here’s just one example.  That’s how it goes with football scandals.

As we know, the Mail has claimed, citing some supporting evidence, that since 2010/11 Manchester City’s financial team have repeatedly manipulated their accounts to escape Uefa punishment.   And as the Mail’s headline says, “Fresh evidence appears to show Premier League champions had millions funnelled into the club by Abu Dhabi to help inflate their income.”

But let’s be fair.  As Law in Sport recently reported there have of late been several cases involving the English Football League on the one hand and Sheffield Wednesday FC and Derby County FC on the other. where the league is trying to regulate its clubs.  “The Sheffield Wednesday matters relate to the accounting practices applied to the purchase of their stadium and the non-payment of player wages. The Derby County matters relate to, among other things, the amortisation policy applied to their transfer fees and the non-payment of player wages.”

What these cases both bring up, as the report clearly shows, is the question “Is it time for an independent football regulator?”    For that is exactly what football does not have.  Thus the club with the most money not only buys the best players, the club with the most money also buys the best lawyers.  And although the number of players that a Premier League club can have is regulated, the number of lawyers it can have, is not. 

Because there are some rules and no independent regulator things can get messy – as recently when Derby County fielded five players who didn’t have a contract in a pre-season game.   Clubs lacking in money have been, most notoriously, selling off their stadia, and then renting it back at eye-watering prices, just so the current owners can try and keep going for long enough for them to find a buyer.

There’s much talk of an independent regulator, but the worry is that even if there is one, the giant clubs could tie her or him up in knots in legal argument and proceedings.  And that fact comes from the notion that at least two of the clubs have more access to money than the leagues themselves.

So at the moment, Manchester City are in the odd position of having a limit on the number of players they can use in the league, but not on the number of lawyers who can take on the league.  In the end it could well be that which is giving them the advantage. 

So having pondered today’s game and the current league table, that’s my conclusion.  Maybe Arsenal need more lawyers.

5 Replies to “How the PL clubs’ legal teams have started to become more important than the players”

  1. Arsenal need a fighting fund and a team of lawyers to continuously challenge PGMO, the League, the FA.

    The circus is getting tighter. It is running out of acts. It is running out of ideas. It has to compete against Kabul, against a haywire climate getting worse, against Covid. It needs a wholehearted embrace to be believed. Too many TV viewers can measure the percentages of who gets favoured against who gets penalised. VAR was supposed to bring balance, it reinforces the already existing bias. Referees cannot be trusted. Bias cannot be respected.

    Nobody appears to defend the viewer’s right to see transparent, consistent, decision making from the match officials and VAR.

    Should the graveyard shift succeed in burying Arsenal, which is their intent, which Mr Arteta and the players have obviously recognised, and should some Arsenal fans wake and discover relegation is a total obliteration of your context, nobody gives a flying fuck about you, it’s not like finishing fourth, you have to start again, there will still be one question remaining – who is the next in line to get the Arsenal treatment? The circus needs meat.

    The rules of distracting an audience have to be followed.

    Come October, November, lines of TV screens will be watched in the silence of boredom. Time has to be passed. You wander in somewhere because you’ve got nothing else to do. Mr Wenger was an easy target. He had everything the circus needed. Joining that Superleague was an act of stupidity BUT – people have the legitimate right to watch their favourite sport without being buried in the sewer.

    If the Arsenal Board do not defend the Arsenal Club they fail football and the fans.

  2. How on earth did the ref, or VAR not call Chambers being punched in the face today?

  3. to all the untold arsenal contributors and supporters of this site: I m with you and I feel your pain.
    To the rest of the mindless crowd who believe the media narrative: you are clueless!
    the PL may not be corrupted in the way games are being ‘sold’ butt corrupted it is. The red on Xhaka, look what Manures Fernandes did to him last season: much more a deep red: not even a free kick. You have to be an utter fool not to see the bias, you have to be an utter fool not to take this bias into account of the Arsenal results. I dont watch anymore, what fun it is to watch a rigged competition. Let the ignorant fools take this seriously, grown ups understand: this is just a commercial fake wrestling show.

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