Football Governance - Culture, Media and Sport Committee Contents

Written evidence submitted by Richard Scudamore, Chief Executive, The Premier League

Sir Dave Richards has asked me to respond to your query about Premier League inquiries into potential owners.

At your Committee hearing of 15 April Niall Quinn used the language of covert operations to describe our process and clearly this has aroused some concern amongst some committee members, particularly Mr Sheridan.

What actually happens when a change of ownership appears likely is that the Premier League makes detailed inquiries as to the identity and circumstances of potential buyers. Unless these persons or entities are already well known to us then we engage specialists in corporate investigations and intelligence. These are well established companies of good reputation and there is nothing melodramatic about their methods. A better term than covert would be the simpler "confidential", because we do not announce that checks are underway and the identity of potential purchasers is generally not disclosed until it is apparent that they are serious and credible bidders and the selling owners are actually considering a genuine offer. Many ownership inquiries are made of the Premier League and of individual Clubs which do not proceed and it is unnecessary and inappropriate for every single inquiry—spurious or serious—to be dealt with in public. We fully understand that fans have an interest in ownership issues but we believe that, as with many commercial transactions, transparency is required at the point of contractual engagement rather than earlier when there is often considerable uncertainty as well as issues of commercial confidentiality to consider.

We remain committed to our Rules which require ultimate ownership interest above 10% to be declared and published. The text of this Rule and of the Owners and Directors Test are attached.

I hope you find this clarification helpful. I look forward to discussing this and other football issues with you next week.



Owners' and Directors' Test

2.  A Person shall be disqualified from acting as a Director and no Club shall be permitted to have any Person acting as a Director of that Club if:

2.1  either directly or indirectly he is involved in or has any power to determine or influence the management or administration of another Club or Football League club; or

2.2  either directly or indirectly he holds or acquires any Significant Interest in a Club while he either directly or indirectly holds any interest in any class of Shares of another Club; or

2.3  he becomes prohibited by law from being a Director (including without limitation as a result of being subject to a disqualification order as a director under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986, or being subject to the terms of an undertaking given to the Secretary of State under that Act, unless a court of competent jurisdiction makes an order under that Act permitting an appointment as a Director); or

2.4  he has a conviction (which is not a Spent Conviction) imposed by a court of the United Kingdom or a competent court of foreign jurisdiction:

2.4.1  in respect of which an unsuspended sentence of at least 12 months' imprisonment was imposed; or

2.4.2  in respect of any offence involving any act which would reasonably be considered to be dishonest (and, for the avoidance of doubt, irrespective of the actual sentence imposed); or

2.4.3  in respect of an offence set out in the Appendix 12 Schedule of Offences or a directly analogous offence in a foreign jurisdiction (and, for the avoidance of doubt, irrespective of the actual sentence imposed); or

2.5  he makes an Individual Voluntary Arrangement or becomes the subject of an Interim Bankruptcy Restriction Order, a Bankruptcy Restriction Order or a Bankruptcy Order; or

2.6  he is or has been a Director of a Club which, while he has been a Director of it, has suffered two or more unconnected Events of Insolvency (and for the purposes of this Rule D.2.6 and Rule D.2.7 a person shall be deemed to have been a Director of a Club which has suffered an Event of Insolvency if such Event of Insolvency occurred in the 30 days immediately following his having resigned as a Director of that Club); or

2.7  he has been a Director of two or more Clubs or clubs each of which, while he has been a Director of them, has suffered an Event of Insolvency: or

2.8  he is subject to a suspension or ban from involvement in the administration of a sport by any ruling body of a sport that is registered with UK Sport or Sport England, or any corresponding national or international association, whether such suspension or ban is direct or indirect (for example a direction to Persons subject to the jurisdiction of the ruling body that they should not employ, contract with or otherwise engage or retain the services of an individual); or

2.9  he is subject to any form of suspension, disqualification or striking-off by a professional body including, without limitation, the Law Society, the Solicitors' Regulation Authority, the Bar Council or the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales or any equivalent body in any jurisdiction outside England and Wales, whether such suspension, disqualification or striking-off is direct or indirect (for example a direction to Persons subject to the jurisdiction of the professional body that they should not employ, contract with or otherwise engage or retain the services of an individual); or

2.10  he is required to notify personal information pursuant to Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003;

2.11  he is found to have breached (irrespective of any sanction actually imposed), or has admitted breaching (irrespective of whether disciplinary proceedings were brought or not):

2.11.1  Rule V.34; or

2.11.2  Rule E.8 of the Rules of the Football Association (as amended, or replaced from time to time); or

2.11.3  any other rules in force from time to time in relation to the prohibition on betting on football matches played in England and Wales.

Persons Prohibited by Law from entering the United Kingdom etc

25.  No Person may acquire any Holding in a Club if, pursuant to the law of the United Kingdom or the European Union:

25.1  he is prohibited from entering the United Kingdom; or

25.2  no funds or economic resources may be made available, directly or indirectly, to or for his benefit.


Dual Interests

11.  A Club shall forthwith give notice in Form 51 to the Secretary if any Person either directly or indirectly;

11.1  holds; or

11.2  acquires; or

11.3  having held or acquired, ceases to hold any Significant Interest in the Club.

12.  A notice given pursuant to the provisions of Rule V.11 shall:

12.1  identify the Person holding, acquiring or ceasing to hold the Significant Interest in question; and

12.2  set out all relevant details of the Significant Interest including without limitation the number of Shares, their description and the nature of the interest; and

12.3  set out where appropriate the proportion (expressed in percentage terms) which the relevant Shares in respect of which the Significant Interest exists bear to the total number of Shares of that class in issue and of the total issued Shares of the Club.

13.  Each Club shall publish the identities of the ultimate owner of each Significant Interest in the Club.

"Significant Interest" means the holding and/or possession of the legal or beneficial interest in, and/or the ability to exercise the voting rights applicable to, shares or other securities in the Club which confer in aggregate on the holder(s) thereof ten (10) per cent or more of the total voting rights exercisable in respect of the Shares of any class of Shares of the Club. All or part of any such interest may be held directly or indirectly or by contract including, but not limited to, by way of membership of any Concert Party, and any rights or powers held by an Associate, Nominee or Connected Person shall be included for the purposes of determining whether an interest or interests amounts to a "Significant Interest";

March 2011

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© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 29 July 2011