EPL to get tough on club finances

With English clubs having run up debts of 3 billion pounds ($4.56 billion), the Premier League has proposed tough measures to curb abuses and bolster transparency.

Among the measures to be approved by the league's 20 clubs at their next meeting for implementation in 2009-10 are annual audits to determine whether a club is financially viable and whether is has unpaid debts to other clubs or outstanding tax or insurance liabilities and rules to prevent dubious persons from serving on boards.

Under the new rules, former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who faced numerous charges of fraud and abuse of power, would not have been allowed to buy Manchester City.

The rules would not have necessarily prevented the Glazer family, which owns the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, from buying Manchester United.

The EPL's four biggest clubs, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal, owe almost $1.5 billion. The owners of United and Liverpool borrowed heavily when they bought their clubs. Arsenal borrowed for the construction of the Emirates Stadium. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich spent huge sums on player transfers.

The proposals follow pressure from UEFA to introduce financial regulations for clubs competing in its continental competitions.

"These regulations go above and beyond the laws of the land," Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said. "Clubs have bought into this and I am confident we can have further progress in the future. These rules will help to steer us through what could be choppy waters."

The French and German leagues have for many years conducted audits to determine the viability of club operations.

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