The below article on EPL Newcastle issues got me thinking about a few wider interrelated topics.

  1. The EPL voted through this initial sponsorship suspension 18 in favour & City abstaining. This is a pretty unanimous statement of intent by almost every EPL club at both ends of the spectrum.
  2. Newcastle are claiming such a sponsorship suspension is anti-competitive. They used a very similar argument in the CAT re the takeover before that dispute was resolved. See their EPL cartel and dominance wording here
  3. Again similar to NUFC’s previous EPL takeover dispute, EPL dispute proceedings were initiated. It is likely that if matters escalate, new ownership will take a leaf out of Mike Ashley’s playbook and start arbitration with 3 independent arbitrators appointed to resolve matters.
  4. Interestingly City abstained because (perhaps) of their current ongoing EPL arbitration in part re their historic Etihad sponsorship deal & Football Leaks fallout. One area of discussion at the time was related party transactions & fair/market value.
  5. By way of wider context, cost control/FFP reform is back on the cards at UEFA level specifically with talk of luxury taxes replacing break-even. This is the reported Bayern (stricter break-even) v PSG (looser luxury tax) conflict at the ECA right now.
  6. EPL clubs are worried NU will ‘game’ the break-even regime through higher commercial revs giving NU greater leeway to spend. Expect more stringent regulations on related party deals brought in ASAP &/or wider structural discussion on whether EPL should follow UEFA luxury tax reforms.
  7. Add to this context the fan led review into football governance and the distinct possibility of an independent regulator. This body may well be given oversight over such FFP/cost control/luxury tax compliance issues.
  8. Whilst the EPL & EFL are currently regulating such matters like related party commercial deals & cost control more generally, the coming months may lead to the independent football regulator being handed such responsibilities.
  9. As you can see, one micro decision is part of a broader number of macro issues for clubs, EPL, EFL, UEFA & government all from a political, legal, governance, regulatory and commercial perspective.

Published by Daniel Geey

I am an associate in Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP’s Competition and EU Regulatory Law Group. First and foremost, I am a football fan. After completing my law degree with a dissertation on the Bosman ruling, I embarked on a Masters Degree in Competition Law and European Football Broadcasting Rights.

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