Foreign owners of clubs blocks Premier League reform at league meeting


By Tony Attwood

Ever since it emerged that Everton, Chelsea and Manchester City were each being pursued by the Premier League over breaches of the League’s financial regulations, we’ve been taking a look at the implications of the cases against these clubs.   Our point is that each of these cases is not self-contained, but can have huge impacts on the future of the Premier League and indeed professional football in England.

Indeed as we show in this article, the notion that it is just one or two clubs that are owned by people from outside the UK is now way out of date.

The particular issue at the moment is that of loans of players between associated clubs.    The move to stop this however was rejected yesterday by the League, as although a clear majority of the Premier League clubs voted in favour of reform a small minority – but as it turns out a big enough minority to block the progress – rejected the idea. There are details of the meeting in the Guardian.

Now of course everyone expected Manchester City and Chelsea to vote against the motion as they are clubs that have been using this approach for years.  And we expected Newcastle United voted against and they could well benefit from future deals as Saudi Arabia extends its investment in the Premier League.  Everton who have just suffered the first points deduction for misdemeanours in the current round of enquiries also voted against as expected.

The others voting against the temporary ban were Nottingham Forest, Sheffield United, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Burnley, which is interesting not least because the extended discussions meant that the other matter on the table (the new financial redistribution deal with the EFL) also did not get agreed. 

And this is interesting because although we didn’t spot that one coming, this is the sort of situation we have been trying to highlight in response to the investigations into the spending of Everton, Chelse and Manchester City.

So far we have been focussing on the fact that many clubs feel disempowered and they are now willing to come together in temporary blocks in order to stop progress on issues that the bigger clubs are looking to make – at least until their concerns are addressed.  If this continues, the issue of reforming the Premier League to help it keep up with developments such as the buying of clubs by oil-rich nations, will not progress.

Meanwhile, the long-awaited deal to provide more financial support for clubs outside the top leagues remains stuck.  Here even the government has got involved and wants more of the mega profits which are currently being made by the likes of Manchester City redistributed down the football pyramid.

But again, part of the problem is that for any reform to happen 14 of the current Premier League clubs need to vote in favour.   If the issue is one of seeking to control the most financially powerful clubs (the ones we have been calling the “big seven” in our analyses of how football is changing) only have stick together and they can block all changes.

However, what we have not focussed on is just how many clubs are owned outside the UK.  Obviously, we know that this applies to Arsenal, but let us not forget that the owner of Nottingham Forest also owns Olympiakos and is seeking investment in a club in Portugal. 

Wolverhampton are thought to have major concerns about the activities of PGMO and are Chinese-owned owned with the owner’s wife owning a majority of Grasshoppers Zurich.

Burnley are American-owned and their owner is said to be buying a Belgium club.  Sheffield United are owned by the former sports minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Abdullah bin Musaid Al Saud.   Wolverhampton are owned by Chinese conglomerate Fosun Group, whose chairman’s wife is the majority shareholder of Grasshoppers Zurich.

Thus as things stand, if they wish to do it, Manchester City can continue to bring in players from all over the City Group of clubs, while in an oft-quoted possible transfer Newcastle United could use their links with Saudi Arabia to get Rúben Neves on loan from Al-Hilal.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph also points out that League also failed to vote through a change in the rules which would have put “much greater personal liability on directors” for what happens in the clubs.  At the moment the responsibility rests with shareholders, most of whom reside overseas and so cannot be touched by English law.

The question of the loans is also being debated by Uefa who are also concerned over loans between players in associated clubs in different leagues, where “a club eliminated, for instance, from the Champions League group stages could loan its best players to a partner club in the Europa League knockout stages.”

In short, vested interests from overseas owned clubs is now controlling what reforms can be introduced into the Premier League, and as we’ve been trying to suggest, the League is effectively, out of control.

5 Replies to “Foreign owners of clubs blocks Premier League reform at league meeting”

  1. English football clubs like many well renowned English products have been sold off by owners eager to make a profit with no interest in the following outcome. The vote by the foreign owned clubs is a perfect example of Premiership self interest & corruption by these foreign owned clubs. And it’s too late for the FA to do anything about it having sold out years ago when allowing the formation of the Premier league.

  2. I see Arteta has asked for and been granted an extension for presenting his defence to the kangaroo court. Hopefully this means the club are putting together an extensive video case of the numerous examples of how inconsistent these damned officials are and hence how it is partially (if not totally) down to them that Arteta was so shocked by the decision to award the goal.

  3. However impressive the Arteta response, I doubt that the kangaroos will take any notice of it.

  4. an odd campaign by the mail where instead of admitting there is an issue with refs they started a campaign that refs shouldnt be abused. i agree with that as they shouldnt get abused but to cover up how bad refs are by doing this campaign hides a bigger issue nor seems like gaslighting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *