Premiership 'may be closed to us'

EXCLUSIVEPROMOTION and relegation in the Premier League could be scrapped if the proliferation of foreign owners continues.That is the warning from Blues chairman David Sheepshanks who fears the American system of sealed divisions in its sports will take over at the top of our national game.

By Derek Davis

EXCLUSIVE

PROMOTION and relegation in the Premier League could be scrapped if the proliferation of foreign owners continues.

That is the warning from Blues chairman David Sheepshanks who fears the American system of sealed divisions in its sports will take over at the top of our national game.


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The Premier League currently boasts eight foreign owners, with Manchester United, Liverpool and Aston Villa controlled by Americans and more could follow, sparking concerns that they could vote in the changes to protect their investment.

Sheepshanks said: “The USA has sealed divisions in its sports. They are all franchises within sporting competitions that have no promotion or relegation; indeed they have various 'distribution of wealth' mechanisms that maintain competitive balance.

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“I have for some time feared that could be the end game in our Premier League.

“I fear that the temptation for a growing number of foreign owners will be to think this way…as a route to removing the risk factor on their investment.

“As the gulf gets wider the possibility of that happening grows larger.

“With ten overseas owners in the Premier League already, it may be the type of thing they will push for and we have to be prepared for that.”

While Sheepshanks is a firm believer in the tradition of the ups and downs of our football pyramid, he understands that potential investors - including anyone interested in The Blues - may prefer the sanctity of a sealed Premiership.

He said: “I believe passionately in promotion and relegation, and keeping the dream alive: it is at the very heart of English football.

“However, ironically, the one benefit for cutting off the bottom of the Premiership and making it smaller, is that it would be more competitive.

“And if you reduced the dangers of relegation then more people would pile in to invest in the smaller clubs to make them more competitive as the risks would have been mitigated.

“The competition below (in the Championship) would also be less distorted…BUT…the dream would be gone.

“As Ipswich Town fans, I wonder how we would think if we were promoted and members of the Premier League faced with such a vote?”

Premiership clubs currently controlled by overseas owners are Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, West Ham, Fulham, Aston Villa, Chelsea and Portsmouth. Sunderland is owned by an Irish consortium, while Birmingham are on the brink of being Chinese owned.

Stan Kroenke has been linked with Arsenal, while Americans are also reportedly interested in Blackburn and Charlton.

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