English men’s soccer's top-tier Premier League (EPL) has formally changed and toughened its rules on punishments for clubs inflating the value of deals with ‘associated parties.’

Teams that are found to have done so will now face sanctions, with the league guidebook having been updated on Monday (March 4) regarding this type of transaction – which would cover issues such as player transfers between two clubs under the same multi-club ownership model, as well as sponsorships deals between a team and another brand with the same eventual owner.

The league’s previous guidebook did not refer to sanctions – instead, it advised that a league panel would be used to determine whether deals between such parties were inflated or not, and then simply prevent it from happening if that was seen to be the case.

Now, however, an independent commission can be used to determine any necessary punishment for a club that has acted in this manner.

The burden of proof also now falls on the clubs themselves – the EPL expects each team to assess if a deal value is inflated before reporting their accounts.

One club in the league – reported to be champions Manchester City, who have over the last 15 years had multiple deals in place with associated brands to their Abu Dhabi owners – have said they believe these new regulations are in breach of competition law. The Premier League, however, has insisted they have complied with all necessary legislation along those lines.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

The issue of agreements between associated parties has been in the spotlight since Newcastle United were taken over by a consortium financially backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund in late 2021.

Soon after, the EPL's 20 clubs – although not all of them – voted through rules that meant any sponsorship deal worth over £1 million ($1.27 million) would need to be submitted to the league to make sure it does not fit into the artificially-inflated associated party bracket.

Both Newcastle and Manchester City have staunchly opposed that policy. Those sides have entered into multiple commercial deals with brands from the same countries as their owners over recent years.

Votes to ban player loan deals between clubs under the same ownership, and to ban other transactions (such as sponsorships) between affiliated parties, have however both failed to reach the 14-club threshold.

Any vote by the 20 clubs requires a two-thirds majority – 14 votes – for the motion to pass.

The updated EPL handbook also states that one club director for each side will need to submit a declaration “by way of confirmation that they consider the… transaction [between associated parties] to be at fair market value.”

In terms of sponsorships amongst EPL teams, yesterday West Ham United unveiled a multi-year regional tie-up with The Kingdom Bank Corporation from Dominica in the Caribbean.

Through the deal, that brand becomes the London club’s first official regional banking partner.

The partnership will extend across the men’s and women's teams, with customers of the bank now having the opportunity to win matchday hospitality packages over the next few seasons.

Online betting brand Betway has been West Ham’s front-of-shirt sponsor since 2019 in a deal running through 2024-25.