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Premier League to get tough on 'unfit' owners

Fri 16th Apr 2010 | Football Governance

The Premier League has moved to introduce tough new measures to flush out potentially “unfit” club investors in the wake of growing criticism over poor ownership and spiralling debt according to the Times newspaper.

Chairmen and chief executives from the 20 Premier League clubs held a four-hour meeting in London yesterday during which a series of proposals were put forward in the hope of achieving greater financial stability and ensuring there is no repeat of the Portsmouth debacle.

As well as beefing up the much- maligned “fit and proper persons” test, the Premier League wants to introduce a new “means and abilities” evaluation that would result in a far more strict and robust vetting process for would-be investors.

The measures would give the Premier League board the power to:

•           Demand potential owners provide proof of funding

•           Request future financial information

•           Insist on meeting any would-be investors face-to-face in a formal capacity

Portsmouth were docked nine points last month after they had become the first Premier League club to enter administration and now stand on the brink of ruin as they count the cost of three destabilising ownership changes in less than a year that have culminated in relegation.

Uefa’s new rules to encourage better business practices could also have far-reaching repercussions for the Premier League, whose members have debts totalling almost £2 billion. The owners of Birmingham City were forced yesterday to deny claims that they could lose control of the club over a payment dispute with an investment bank.

Birmingham International Holdings is seeking leave to appeal against a court order demanding it pays Seymour Pierce a £2.2 million “success fee” for laying the groundwork for the takeover of the club by Carson Yeung, a Hong Kong businessman, last year.

Richard Scudamore, the Premier League chief executive, has acknowledged that the organisation needs to get tougher on the subject of ownership and finance and hopes clubs will vote in favour of the proposals when they convene for their annual meeting during the first week of June.

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