Football: The English Premier League New Owner’s Charter

By Jonathan Copping, Lawyer, Stone King LLP, London, UK

The fallout from the failed introduction of the European Super League has seen the English Premier League introduce a new set of measures aimed at stopping any future breakaway leagues.

These measures include a new Owner’s Charter requiring all the owners of Premier League clubs to sign confirming their commitment to the principles of the League.

In a strongly worded statement, introducing the new Owner’s Charter, the Premier League stated:

“…..The Premier League has prepared a series of measures to enshrine the core principles of the professional game: an open pyramid, progression through sporting merit and the highest standards of sporting integrity. These measures are designed to stop the threat of breakaway leagues in the future.

“…..the Premier League, supported by The FA, is taking the following actions to protect our game, our clubs and their fans from further disruption and uncertainty:
 
•    Additional rules and regulation to ensure the principles of the Premier League and open competition are protected

•    A new Owners’ Charter that all club owners will be required to sign up to, committing them to the core principles of the Premier League 

•    Breaches of these rules and the Charter will be subject to significant sanctions

•    We are enlisting the support of Government to bring in appropriate legislation to protect football’s open pyramid, principles of sporting merit and the integrity of the football community.”

The exact wording of the additional rules, regulations and the new Owner’s Charter have not yet been publicly released and, therefore, it is not known exactly what the “significant sanctions” will be, although one might speculate that they could include expulsion from the Premier League, points deductions, or heavy financial penalties.

It is understood that the Premier League is working with the UK Government, UEFA, The FA and other footballing bodies to protect the fabric of the English football pyramid structure, as well as European club competitions.

The six Premier League clubs, that were part of the European Super League, namely, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, have been notably quiet since withdrawing from the European Super League, other than apologising to the fans.

None of the clubs involved in the European Super League have publicly commented on the new measures to be introduced by the Premier League; however, it would seem unlikely that any of them are happy with the measures, although they will have little choice but to agree to them.

Shortly after the announcement of the new measures, the Premier League announced that it had renewed its TV-deal with its broadcasting partners for £4.8bn (see the Post of 14 May 2021). The deal, which is on the same terms as the previous one agreed in 2018, is likely to be a blow for the Premier League clubs. Factoring in inflation, the deal will see Premier League clubs receive less than under the previous deal.

Taking also into account, the significant revenue drop caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in match-day revenues, it will be interesting to see the next steps by the breakaway clubs and their owners, that will, no doubt, be taken by them, with a view to maintaining their dominance at the top of English and European football.

Jonathan Copping may be contacted by e-mail at ‘JonathanCopping@stoneking.co.uk’