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Scudamore defends ownership test

By David Ornstein
BBC Sport at Stamford Bridge

Premier League chief Richard Scudamore
Scudamore says the fit and proper persons test could be renamed

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has defended the fit and proper persons test which needs to be passed to own a top-flight club.

Scudamore was responding after Fifa president Sepp Blatter called for stricter rules on foreign ownership of clubs in the UK and abroad.

Blatter had said "something has to be done about these billionaire owners".

But Scudamore told BBC Sport: "I am certain there are people who are not owners of clubs because of the test."

The acquisition of Manchester City by the Abu Dhabi United Group from Thakshin Shinawatra in September made them the latest Premier League team to benefit from wealthy foreign investors.

Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United are among other high-profile teams in the English top-flight under foreign ownership.

You can't patronize the fans by playing meaningless matches and playing exhibition matches for ever

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore

"You could argue that one of the reasons that Mr Shinawatra has decided that it might be right to to sell is that it might be at some point he may fail our fit and proper persons test," added Scudamore.

"And don't underestimate the role that the football authorities have maybe played in that."

Scudamore did concede the title of the test may need to be changed and revealed that Premier League clubs can vote if they wanted the criteria changed.

"It was introduced by the clubs," he added. "We are a good example of a self-regulatory progressive organisation.

"If the 20 Premier League clubs want to alter the test or tighten it then we have a democratic process whereby we can do it. They are not scared of that.

"I agree wholly that the title for the test is wrong. It should be renamed the ownership qualification test.

"It is a very objective set of criteria - fit and proper person sounds subjective.

Sepp Blatter
Blatter wants the European Union to work with Uefa over foreign ownership

"I don't think it's inadequate. Where we have issues is we would rather not get involved in too much subjectivity."

Blatter, who is concerned at the fate of such clubs should the economic downturn affect foreign owners, met EU lawmakers on Monday to discuss overseas investment in football, among other issues.

"Something has to be done about these billionaire owners," Blatter told reporters at the European Parliament.

"These days you can buy a club as easily as you buy a football jersey. There is something wrong and that's why I ask the European Union to act.

"This is not just about England where the problem is acute. This will spread across Europe."

"Some of these owners prefer horse racing, others like to buy a Formula One team, now buying a football club is the big attraction."

Blatter added that while there was "no single remedy", he believed owners should have an association with the area before buying a club.

"There are national laws in Switzerland, for example, when you buy property or make an investment, you must prove yourself," he explained. "You have to prove your link with the area.

"We must ask ourselves about what motivates these owners and are they really interested in the game or just making money?

"There must be better control of football's finances especially in the difficult climate we are facing. I urge Uefa to work with the EU to tighten up the rules, otherwise there will be big financial difficulties in the future."

606: DEBATE

Liverpool's American owners delayed the building of a new stadium as the global economic crisis took hold, and Manchester United's shirt sponsors, AIG, had to be rescued by the US Federal Reserve in September.

Meanwhile, Scudamore is confident that the Premier League's 39th-game proposal could still happen in some shape or form.

The Premier League unveiled proposals on 7 February to host a 39th round of matches across five cities across the world from 2011, though the idea was unanimously opposed by world governing body Fifa.

"Will it come back in the original form? Probably not," Scudamore said. "Will it come back in another form? Probably likely."

Scudamore added: "You can't patronize the fans by playing meaningless matches and playing exhibition matches for ever.

"The audience abroad is not silly. They are sophisticated and they want really meaningful matches."



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see also
FA chief fears '3bn' club debts
07 Oct 08 |  Football
Poland settle dispute with Fifa
06 Oct 08 |  Internationals
Blatter calls for 2010 enthusiasm
17 Sep 08 |  African
Fifa rejects 39th-game proposal
14 Mar 08 |  Premier League
Blatter hostile to overseas plan
15 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Premier League going global
07 Feb 08 |  Premier League


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