Former Leeds and Chelsea owner Ken Bates has claimed that the FA should have introduced rules banning foreign ownership of English football clubs – despite selling both of his teams to overseas investors.
The 89-year-old British businessman was involved in the formation of the Premier League back in 1992 and was at the top of the pyramid at a time when most clubs were run solely within the UK.
Times have now changed and as the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool – both owned by Americans – lead calls for a breakaway European Super League, Bates believes the FA should have put a stop to it when they had the chance.
‘Manchester United owned by Americans. Liverpool owned by other Americans,’ Bates told The Telegraph. ‘The first thing they said was let’s reduce the Premier League by two clubs. Let those two resign. Get out of it. Nobody asked for them to come.
‘The great thing about English football is you kick off in August and all start even. What you did 20 years ago has nothing to do with what you do today. The trouble is that the FA are very weak. I found that when I was on the FA council and the FA board. They should have introduced rules preventing foreign ownership of football clubs.’
In current years, there has been a huge influx of foreign money pouring into the Premier League, with only Brighton, Newcastle, Tottenham and West Ham being controlled by British businessmen.
The Glazer family, who own Man United, have been involved in the Super League plans
Liverpool’s owner John W Henry has also been involved in drawing up the proposals
That leaves 16 clubs with majority stakes held by owners outside of the UK, spread across the likes of China, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Russia among others.
Interestingly, Bates has twice sold football clubs, and both times to foreign owners with Leeds going to Bahraini businessman Salah Nooruddin and Chelsea to Roman Abramovich.
Now, though, Bates is insistent that attempts should be made to keep money inside English football, putting forward a proposal to restructure taxing.
‘Too much money goes overseas and they don’t pay any tax,’ he explains. ‘The Government should introduce tax for any payments overseas for transfer fees, players’ agents, image rights or any of that, 25 to 30 per cent.
‘The other thing, they should charge outgoing transfer fees against tax. That will bring down the transfer fees, reduce the number of foreign players coming in and let the English players play in their English league.’