PFA chief Gordon Taylor wants to reduce club debt

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The Independent Football

Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor admits debt levels in clubs is a concern and wants measures introduced to reduce the risk of future financial problems.

This week Manchester United revealed a loss of £108.9million for the last year, with their overall debt now standing at £590.4million.

They are not the only club who have a substantial level of debt and Taylor believes legislation is required to prevent the huge leveraged buy-outs undertaken by the likes of former Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, who in the latter stages of their reign last year were paying £40million a year in interest fees.

"It has been a big concern for us. Football has never had as big an income but ironically it has never had as big a debt," he told Press Association Sport.

"A club like Manchester United is a real flagship club for this country - just like Liverpool - yet they are or were faced with quite massive debts which they have to pay off from any money they bring in now to accommodate when the club was bought.

"That is something I really worry about. I look at examples in America and in gridiron they can even sell the franchises of the club but they do not allow the owner to take over a club with more than 20% of the price being leveraged debt.

"I think that is something we need to bring into place in this country."

However, Taylor did feel efforts were being made to rein in spending among British clubs.

"Both the Premier League and Football League are having a lot more financial propriety," said the PFA chief, speaking in Blackburn as he opened a new sports pavilion - funded with the help of a £263,356 grant from the Football Foundation and £250,000 came from the Football Association - for Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School and Blackburn Community Sports Club.

"People assume as the PFA in regards to finance we say 'just pay the players what you want' but it is not like that.

"The game is about players but you have to keep it to reasonable levels.

"We have fought long and hard against the maximum wage and we are not in favour of a salary cap but we are in favour of financial propriety where a club should be thinking in terms of what it spends on staff and players.

"We need to be very mindful of the balance sheet and that is why I am so pleased UEFA has brought in a financial fair play rule.

"It will sometimes look to accommodate the bigger owners who look to be benevolent, like Roman Abramovich (Chelsea owner) but it is just to make sure when they walk away the club does not collapse.

"It is having that escape route to make sure the club stays alive and reasonably thriving."

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