Friday 19 January 2018

Foreign owners want end to Premier League relegation

Rob Harris

SOME of the Premier League's foreign owners want to abolish the relegation and promotion system, a senior English football executive said yesterday.

With half of the Premier League's 20 clubs under foreign ownership, League Managers' Association (LMA) chief executive Richard Bevan said many are keen on emulating the American system, where major leagues like the NFL, NBA and NHL have no relegation.

"There are a number of overseas-owned clubs already talking about bringing about the avoidance of promotion and relegation in the Premier League," Bevan said at the Professional Players Federation conference in London. "If we have four or five more new owners, that could happen."

Forcing through any change to the Premier League's rules requires the support of 14 of the 20 clubs, and the FA would still have to ratify the decision.

But Stoke chairman Peter Coates, one of just 10 English owners in the top flight, warned of the dangers of scrapping the "lifeblood of our game".

"I'd be horrified to think that was someone's long-term agenda," Coates said. "It would be so bad for the game and would do it immense damage.

"You'd take away the thing that's so important: the opportunity to go up and down, which creates a mass amount of interest. There's as much interest in the relegation battle as the title battle."

Coates said there was not a "shred of evidence" to support Bevan's comments, stressing: "I don't know anything of this conspiracy."

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said he supported the current system that sees the three bottom clubs relegated each season from the top flight, while three clubs are promoted from the second-tier to the Premier League.

"You may as well lock the doors (without relegation)," said Ferguson, whose club is owned by the Glazer family. "It would be absolute suicide for the rest of the teams in the country, particularly the Championship."

Premier League owners also would meet opposition from Europe's football and political institutions if they tried to abolish the ability of lower-tier teams to rise into the elite.

UEFA has highlighted promotion and relegation among its core values in the so-called "European sports model".

Irish Independent

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