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Leeds owners ‘Fit and Proper’ but remain anonymous

Fri 5th Mar 2010 | Clubs Ownership

After the Football League announced that the mysterious owners of Leeds United were ‘fit and proper’ politicians from the three main parties and football supporters' groups have united in calling for the league to reveal their identities.

As reported in the Guardian newspaper, sports minister, Gerry Sutcliffe, said: "Fans of any football club have a right to know who the owners are. We want to see greater supporter representation in the running of football clubs and far greater accountability. The League should insist on clubs making public to their supporters who owns them."

Joining in the call for greater transparency of ownership are the Conservative shadow sports minister, Hugh Robertson and Liberal Democrat MP for Harrogate, Phil Willis both of whom agreed that fans deserved the right to know who owns the club.

Robertson argued, "As with Parliament and many other areas of public life, transparency is going to be an increasing requirement and expectation. That includes publicly identifying the owners of football clubs. Football should reform its governance, to include greater supporter representation on the board of clubs."

The Premier League does now require its clubs to publish the names of all shareholders with stakes of 10% or more, but the Football League does not. Instead, clubs must tell the League's chairman, Lord Mawhinney, and three other senior executives, who the ultimate owners are, but the information is not made public.

Joining the politicians calls for the owners identities to be revealed are the Leeds United Supporters Club, the national Football Supporters' Federation and Supporters Direct.

Dave Boyle, the chief executive of Supporters Direct commented "Like all football clubs, Leeds United's character is that of a public institution wrapped in a privately owned business and that creates a mismatch. The authorities can recognise that public nature by sending a clear message: you can remain a private anonymous citizen, and you can own a football club, but you cannot do both."

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