Scudamore unconcerned by foreign investors

September 17, 2006

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore is unconcerned by the number of English clubs being taken over by foreign owners - provided strict eligibility criteria are met.

Chelsea, Manchester United, Aston Villa and Portsmouth have been sold to non-British investors in recent years while Arsenal and West Ham are the latest names to be linked with takeovers.

Concern has been raised at the rate foreign owners are assuming control of Premiership clubs but Scudamore believes those fears carry a racist undercurrent.

'We have an ownership model, as do other business in this country, that allow those who have the money to come in an purchase assets in this country,' he told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek.

'We have to be realistic. This league has attracted foreign players, managers and investment. So ultimately it will attract foreign owners.

'The issue isn't who the owners are, neither their country of origin nor the colour of their skin. The issue is how they conduct themselves and how we regulate what goes on.

'I have no issue that at the present rate of investment in five years time half of the Premiership clubs will be owned by foreign investors - as long as they pass the proper tests.

'We have a very good Department of Trade and Industry. There's a whole lot of regulation that goes on before anyone can take over any business in this country.

'That includes checking out where the money is coming from. We've put in a few new regulations on top of that.

'The underlying inference in a lot of commentary is that we don't like foreign owners or the colour of their skin. We are not going to go down that route.

'I don't want to see a Premier League that's entirely stocked with foreign players. What we want to see is the best of English talent matched against the best of foreign talent.'

Scudamore believes potential owners do not see buying into a Premiership club as an investment opportunity and insists all candidates are heavily screened before being allowed to proceed with the takeover.

'Milan Mandaric was a foreign owner at Portsmouth. He came in when they were in administration and was an absolute saviour he said.

'He's taken them to where they are and now he's sold out. I don't see that any of the owners see it as just an investment plan.

'There have to be other reasons for doing it. Roman Abramovich doesn't need the money. He's in it for credibility.

'The fit and proper persons test is very objective. It's about whether they've been guilty of a whole list of offences.

'It's wider than the DTI's test and we've extended it to directors and owners. It's on a self-declaration basis but we follow it up.'

Scudamore see no irregularities in West Ham's recent purchase of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano.

The Hammers are reported to have struck a deal for the Argentina internationals with Media Sports Investments, who own the rights to the players.

'We looked at the Tevez and Mascherano deals before we registered the players,' he said.

'They wouldn't be playing for West Ham unless their registration was absolutely in order. West Ham own their registration.

'What commercial arrangements the players as individuals have with their image rights is between the player and MSI, not West Ham or the Premier League.'