LONDON - The Premier League announced a
series of stringent new rules regarding club ownership, finance
and tax reporting on Tuesday to avoid a repeat of the crisis
that brought Portsmouth close to extinction last season.
"We now believe we have the measures in place, the early
warning system and the rules regarding change of ownership which
will enable us to reduce the risk of having a repeat of the
Portsmouth situation," Chief Executive Richard Scudamore told a
"We have reduced the risk to extremely unlikely proportions."
Portsmouth, who had a series of owners last season, were
relegated from the Premier League at the end of the campaign
after amassing debts of over 120 million sterling to tax authorities plus tens of millions more to other
They went into into administration in February, suffering a
nine-point penalty deduction, but would have finished bottom of
the table even without that.
The rules stipulate that both financial and personal
credentials of prospective owners will be closely scrutinised.
Any such bidders for the Premier League's 20 clubs will have
to prove they have the necessary funds to carry through a
takeover and to sustain the team for a year.
The Premier League's Board has been empowered to request a
direct meeting with any potential buyers and to obtain
information from member clubs every quarter to ensure all tax
and social security contributions are in order.
The Premier League will also have the power to go directly
to tax authorities to ensure payments are up to date.
Individuals barred by other sporting organisations will not
be allowed to become a Premier League club director.
"The object of the Premier League is to reduce risk to try
and prevent the worst happening, but ultimately we cannot
eliminate risk entirely because that would involve us
interfering almost as shadow directors and running clubs and we
are not going to do that," Scudamore said.
"We are not going to entirely eliminate the risk of a club
putting itself in an over-extended position but by the measures
we now have in place we can reduce that risk to a minimum."
He added that Portsmouth's mismanagement had damaged the
League's reputation and the worst of its problems would have
been avoided if the new rules had been in operation.
"There is reputational damage when you have a Portsmouth
situation. Those sort of headlines are not good.
"It is reputationally difficult because everyone gets tarred
with the same brush. The clubs that have run themselves
extremely well, prudently and sensibly, get tarred with the same
brush that football is a financial basket-case which it is not.
"Therefore you have to do things that protect you from that
reputational risk and there was a mood to do that."
Scudamore said that the Premier League's turnover in the
coming season would reach 1.2 billion pounds - an 18 percent
increase over last season.
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