Manchester City’s seemingly never-ending battle with the football authorities over matters of accounting are so esoteric you wonder who’s interested.
Yet many rival fans are, and keen to see ‘justice’ meted out to a club that has won five of the past 10 Premier League titles.
As a lawyer myself, and with experience of complex and controversial litigation, even after years of City being under investigation we shouldn’t assume a swift outcome.
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Likewise, it would be wrong to assume that the type of emails shown in these pages last weekend will provide the PL with a ‘smoking gun’ that previous investigations did not have.
The Court of Appeal recently ruled that the existence of City’s secret 2-year-plus legal battle with the PL over alleged breaches of PL rules should be published ‘in order to ensure public scrutiny and the transparent administration of justice.’
In doing so, it also ruled that it was ‘not impressed’ by some of the arguments made by City’s leading QC, Lord Pannick, saying that it was ‘entirely fanciful’ that mere knowledge of the battle would harm City’s chances of a fair hearing.
The judgments also made plain that the judges think City have been fighting with weak and tenuous tactical arguments for many months.
Litigation is heavy going and parties, by default, fight hard. The idea that City should throw open their books and worldwide documents to scrutiny by UEFA, the PL or whoever else is unrealistic.
Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has his club taking a belligerent approach
Battles around the disclosure of documents are routinely arduous; the League is not entitled to go on a fishing expedition, even less to demand documents from the palaces of Abu Dhabi.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Rightly, City will feel the burden is for others to prove a case against them. They have more than 10 years of clean audited accounts under the current owners. Which is why City's approach - obfuscatory as it may seem - is consistent with a leaked email from 2013 published by German magazine Der Spiegel in 2018.
It featured City lawyer Simon Cliff explaining that rather than settle with UEFA in the then ongoing tussle over FFP, the club’s chairman, Khaldoon Al Mubarak ‘would rather spend £30m on the best 50 lawyers in the world to sue them for the next 10 years.’
Consistent with the club’s approach in