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Tuesday, 6 August, 2002, 09:15 GMT 10:15 UK
League chiefs quit
Football League chief executive David Burns (right) and chairman Keith Harris
Burns (right) has stepped down from his position
The Football League's two leading executives have resigned over the ITV Digital fiasco which has left some clubs facing financial ruin.

Chairman Keith Harris and chief executive David Burns both announced they were quitting on Tuesday.

Both had been under pressure since 1 August when a High Court judge ruled Carlton and Granada were not liable for the 178.5m owed to the League by ITV Digital.

Why they were forced to quit:

  • The loss of the court case left the Football League facing legal bills in excess of 1m.

  • A number of club chairmen were also unhappy at the new 95m television deal struck by the pair with BSkyB last month.

  • The chairmen claimed the four-year deal sold the League short, and also tied them too far into the future.

    In a statement, Burns defended his record as chief executive, pointing out that the ITV Digital deal was brokered before he took up the post.

    "Throughout my 21 months as chief executive, I have worked tirelessly to improve the League's position commercially and politically, to raise and enhance its public image and to ensure fair media representation," he said.


  • We voiced our opinion that other measures should have been taken, which the executive failed to do
    Millwall chairman Theo Paphitis

    "A great deal of progress has been made and I leave behind a talented and dynamic executive team capable of taking the League forward well into the future.

    "When I joined the League, the ITV Digital contract - the subject of the recent High Court legal action - was already in place, having been finalised by the previous administration."

    Harris added: "I said on Sunday it would improve my lifestyle if I walked away.

    "I could no longer concentrate on full-time roles I have elsewhere and now I am available to do that.

    "I have a huge love of football and someone with some business experience like myself could be a valuable addition but the emotional and time commitment required is huge."

    An overhaul of the Football League now looks likely with many First Division clubs calling for more power because they generate most of the income.

    The possibility of Divisions Two and Three being combined into a regional set-up is also likely to be discussed.

    The old Third Divisions North and South were scrapped in 1958 when the Fourth Division was created.

     WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    BBC News' James Pearce
    "It hasn't come as a surprise"
    Keith Harris:
    "The job became a full-time nightmare"
    Brentford chairman Ron Noades
    "We won't find anyone better than Harris"
    Millwall chief Theo Paphitis
    "We need to look forward"

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    Football feels pinch
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