Manchester City’s defence team to fight the explosive Premier League charges will be led by a renowned barrister who has advised former prime minister Boris Johnson over the Partygate inquiry.
City were hit with more than 100 alleged breaches of the Premier League’s financial rules over a nine-year period, which if proven could see them facing a points deduction or expulsion from the top flight.
They have instructed Lord Pannick KC, who was integral in overturning UEFA’s two-year ban on participating in European competition at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2020.
One of the most high-profile barristers in the country, Pannick also defeated Johnson’s government in the Supreme Court over the shock prorogation of Parliament four years ago.
Pannick is reported to charge around £5,000 an hour for his services, which puts him in line with the top earners in the Premier League. There is a confidence around the defending champions that they will successfully defend the claims in front of an independent commission.
By the close of play on Monday, the atmosphere around the City Football Academy, which houses both playing and business employees, was described as ‘calm’ and ‘defiant’ following that morning’s bombshell statement.
Executives met with Pep Guardiola’s squad a few hours after the announcement to pledge that the club would clear its name.
The news on Monday does not only impact players at City now but those who formed part of the teams during the years under which the club is alleged to have broken rules.
Some have been left curious as to what punishments may arise and keen to find out the impact on silverware they lifted when at the Etihad Stadium.
Stripping City of titles, which is in the Premier League’s power if the case is proven, would act as a severe blow to players involved in those victories and that was the first question they were asking when messaging peers.
Other ex-players were pepped by a punchy club statement, which said City are looking ‘forward to this matter being put to rest once and for all’.
City have moved to assure relevant parties – players, agents and staff – over the last 48 hours that it is ‘business as usual’ – and do not want the case to detract from Guardiola’s side attempting to claw back ground in the title race.
That extends to planning for the future, with City likely to busy in the summer market and agents believing there has been no deviation from that this week.
As Sportsmail revealed last week, wingers are high on the agenda alongside potentially two midfielders depending on the futures of Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva. They remain on the hunt for a left back and could revive interest in Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell.
Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham is a target but there is competition from Real Madrid and Liverpool for the England international’s signature.
While the uncertainty around the case – not least when it will be heard – exists, there could be complications to transfer business, with prospective players understandably eager to ascertain any possible ramifications before committing to joining.
But City will continue with any contract renewals currently ongoing and shaping their transfer strategy as initially planned.
Their confidence has been refuted by UEFA’s former chief investigator, Yves Leterme, involved when the governing body banned City.
‘I am convinced that fraud has been committed by Manchester City,’ Leterme told Sporza. ‘The scope of the complaint is now broader than that at UEFA. Both in time and in substance.
‘Especially because the Premier League does not have to adhere to the same strict limitation periods as we do.’