Relegation in danger of axe – managers’ chief

OVERSEAS owners of Premier League clubs want to ringfence the top flight and abolish relegation, according to League Managers’ Association chief Richard Bevan.

Such a move could only be passed if 14 of the 20 leading clubs voted in favour of the change, but Bevan believes that could happen if more foreign investors snap up English clubs.

“There are a number of overseas-owned clubs already talking about bringing about the avoidance of promotion and relegation in the Premier League,” he said. “If we have four or five more new owners, that could happen.”

It comes after Wigan chairman Dave Whelan accused Liverpool’s American owners of being behind the Reds’ call for clubs to be allowed to sell their own television rights, rather than subscribing to the Premier League’s collective bargaining model.

Bevan again blamed the growing US influence in English football, as well as pointing the finger at Asian investors.

“You’ll find that with American owners and you’ll find that with some of the Asian owners as well,” he added.

“If you look at sport all around the world and you look at sport owners trying to work out how to invest and make money, you’ll find that most of them like the idea of franchises.

“If you take, particularly, American owners, without doubt there have been a number of them looking at possibly having more of a franchise situation. That would mean no promotion or relegation. That would obviously not be good news for English football.”

Ringfencing the Premier League would safeguard the top 20 teams from the huge drop in revenue caused by relegation, but critics believe it would erode the division’s famous competitiveness.

Bevan called on the game’s authorities to adopt government recommendations to how the sport is run, and in particular the introduction of an annual licensing system managed by the Football Association.

He said: “You need to make sure that the FA is strong enough to ensure that the principles on which our clubs are run, if I’m an owner coming in, I must recognise and embrace the history, the tradition, the supporters, the community, the philosophy of actually how this club should be operating and not deciding my club should be taken abroad or whatever.”

The Glazer family became the first American owners in the Premier League when they bought Manchester United in 2005.

FOREIGN PREMIER LEAGUE OWNERS

Arsenal Stan Kroenke* (US)
Aston Villa Randy Lerner (US)
Blackburn Venky’s (India)
Chelsea Roman Abramovich (Russia)
Fulham Mohamed Al Fayed (Egypt)
Liverpool Fenway Sports Group (US)
Man City Sheikh Mansour (UAE)
Man Utd Glazer family (US) (pictured)
QPR Tony Fernandes* (Malaysia)
Sunderland Ellis Short (US)

* Majority shareholders