Behind the windows of Manchester there is an insane love of football, of celebration
Sports Minister and PL's anger that the FA do not know who owns United
26th April 2011
The FA has had to 'clarify' the evidence it gave the Culture, Media and Sport committee inquiry into football governance and confirm that it does not know who owns Leeds United. The Press Association, April 2011
Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has said that Leeds will be forced to reveal exactly who owns the club if they are promoted to the top flight and that the Premier League will apply the rules on ownership transparency more strictly than the Football League have done.
Sports Minister Hugh Robertson commented that 'It's patently absurd that people save up every week to go through the turnstiles and cannot find out who owns the club”
The FA, Premier League and Sports Minister are also all aware (as the result of our correspondence with them in February 2011) that the ownership details of Manchester United Football Club are (since late 2010) no longer in the public domain (and hence equally unknowable).
This has come about because Red Football LLC, the new company that now ultimately owns the club is based in Delaware, which according to Andersred is the most secretive financial location in the world.
There is currently no way to independently verify who actually does own Manchester United Football Club.
Our concern is that this lack of transparency completely undermines the PL owners and directors test, the FA’s rules on confirming the identities of those owning more than 10% of any football club and UEFA’s rules preventing individuals owning more than one football club.
It also leaves the game wide open to corruption.
The Football Association, in spite of their chairman David Bernstein having said,"I think supporters should know who owns any clubs, absolutely. I don't think there should be any exceptions." told us to "ask the Premier League”
The Premier League were pleased to inform us that 'they know but can’t tell us how they know' and when pressed for more information about how they have access to information that isn't in the public domain, then told us to ”Go away”.
The Minister for sport said “governance and regulation is a matter for the football authorities to agree”
These exchanges make it clear that asking the relevant football authorities a simple and straightforward question about who owns one of our Premier League football clubs gets us nowhere.
IMUSA has therefore now added "No ratification without independent verification" to our campaigns list; the demand that people claiming to be owners of our football clubs are not confirmed as such until proof of that ownership is put into the public domain.
Somewhat to our surprise, especially given the dismissive tone of his previous correspondence, Hugh Robertson seemingly now agrees with IMUSA's position. In recent days he has stated that
“It's perfectly reasonable for fans to expect to know who the owners are of their football club and that's something that should be corrected sooner rather than later.”
It remains to be seen if he meant these words to apply only to the situation at Leeds United or whether his intentions are to turn them into actions that will benefit the game as a whole.
All will be revealed when the Culture, Media and Sport Committee issues the report of its inquiry into football governance.