Enic warns Uefa over `illegal' ban on teams

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The Independent Online
ENIC, the UK leisure group which owns stakes in a string of top European football clubs, yesterday said that Uefa, the sport's European governing body, would be acting illegally if it attempted to enforce its decision to ban teams with the same owner playing in the same competition.

Enic, which is backed by Joe Lewis, the Bahamas based billionaire, said in a strongly worded Stock Exchange statement yesterday that it had been advised that any such restriction would be in breach of European Union law and that it intends to take any other action it considers appropriate in order to protect its shareholders.

The controversial decision by Uefa raises the possibility that leading teams could be refused entry to play on a European stage. It is likely to deter financiers who were planning to pour vast sums of money into the game from investing in football clubs. Enic owns large stakes in Glasgow Rangers, AEK Athens of Greece, Slavia Prague of the Czech republic and Vicenza of Italy. Uefa's ruling could also have devastating consequences for Canal Plus, the French media group which owns Paris St Germain and Servette of Switzerland and IMG, the marketing group run by Mark McCormack which was set to invest in the sector.