Revealed: £20m issue critical as Man City lawyer up - 'I was shooed out of meetings,' claims source
The only precedent available to forecast how the Premier League’s battle against Man City might unfold is the 2007 case between West Ham and Sheffield United, Football Insider has been told.
City potentially face being relegated, stripped of titles and handed an unlimited cash fine if they are found guilty of the 115 alleged financial breaches brought against them by the Premier League.
The reigning champions, who claim that there is “irrefutable evidence” in support of their position, have already enlisted Lord David Pannick KC to help build their defence, whose hourly rate has been reported as £5,000.
The last time the league took legal action against one of its own shareholders was when West Ham were fined for their violation of third-party player ownership rules in the 2006 acquisitions of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano.
Sheffield United argued that Tevez’s goals in the 2006-07 campaign ensured the Hammers’ Premier League survival at their expense, and they ultimately reached a £20m out-of-court settlement with the East London club.
Alex Fynn, who has previously been characterised as the ‘spiritual godfather of the Premier League’ and helped craft the top-flight’s original business plan in 1992, worked on behalf of West Ham during the mid-2000s.
Fynn told Football Insider that he was “shooed out of meetings” so the West Ham hierarchy could discuss the potential acquisitions of Tevez and Mascherano.
The sports media consultant claims that the saga is the only case legally analogous to the City scandal, although he also believes that sanctions against City will be more severe if they are found guilty.
“The only precedent is what happened when Sheffield United were relegated and West Ham stayed up,” he told Football Insider.
“They signed Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano illegally and were subsequently fined an enormous amount.
“I think times have moved on. Now, if you break the rules you are looking at a points deduction, maybe a transfer ban. Anything that hits the playing side.
“I was actually working for the club when they had the idea of hiring the two Argentinian players. In fact, I was actually shooed out of a meeting so they could discuss that.”
City have been accused of overstating and failing to provide accurate details of sponsorship income, using shadow contracts to boost player and manager wages within the confines of financial fair play, and refusing to cooperate with the Premier League’s four-year investigation.
The top flight have a pre-planned quarterly shareholder meeting across two days on Thursday and Friday (9 and 10 February), where it is understood that the City controversy will dominate proceedings.