Richard Scudamore says scrapping relegation is 'nonsensical'
Thursday 20 October 2011
Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has rubbished talk of scrapping relegation and promotion in the top flight, labelling the suggestion "nonsensical".
League Managers' Association chief executive Richard Bevan claimed earlier this week that the American and Asian owners of Premier League clubs would be keen on a franchising model that would fly in the face of English footballing tradition.
But Scudamore today insisted there was "absolutely no appetite" for such a change.
He told Sky Sports News: "Well, (a), I could never see it; and (b), there's been no serious debate about it at all.
"It's just a nonsensical starting point...it's scare-mongering of the worst order in my view.
"There is absolutely no appetite for it. You just can't make statements without being able to back it up.
"I'm probably the person sitting with the most evidence. I speak to the clubs on a regular basis. I speak to all the owners - both foreign and British - on a very regular basis and there's no appetite for it whatsoever."
He added: "The whole promotion/relegation thing is the lifeblood of football in this country."
Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Aston Villa and Sunderland are all in American hands, Manchester City are run from Abu Dhabi, while other clubs including Chelsea and Blackburn also have foreign investors.
Asked for his response to Bevan's claim that the Asian and American owners were in favour of the idea, he said: "My reaction was to ask him precisely who they were and what they were saying and he was unable to substantiate it in any meaningful way - as I knew he wouldn't be able to.
"This idea that the foreign owners are somehow more interested in this than the UK owners is just a misconception."
Football League chairman Greg Clarke concurred with Scudamore.
He said: "I wouldn't like to get rid of it at all.
"I like competition, I like the life-or-death scrap at the end of the season - people trying to avoid relegation, compete for promotion.
"I think 75% of the games would be dead after Christmas if there were no relegation pressures, and then why would people watch?
"My view is the more excitement there is, and the more promotion and relegation there is, the better the product is for the fans watching on television and at the grounds."
Speaking on Monday at the Professional Players Federation conference in London, Bevan said: "There are a number of overseas-owned clubs already talking about bringing about the avoidance of promotion and relegation in the Premier League.
"If we have four or five more new owners, that could happen."
He added: "You'll find that with American owners and you'll find that with some of the Asian owners as well.
"If you look at sport all around the world and you look at sport owners trying to work out how to invest and make money, you'll find that most of them like the idea of franchises.
"If you take, particularly, American owners, without doubt there have been a number of them looking at possibly having more of a franchise situation.
"That would mean no promotion or relegation.
"That would obviously not be good news for English football.
"You need to make sure that the FA is strong enough to ensure that the principles on which our clubs are run, if I'm an owner coming in, I must recognise and embrace the history, the tradition, the supporters, the community, the philosophy of actually how this club should be operating and not deciding my club should be taken abroad or whatever."
Even if a two thirds majority of Premier League clubs voted in favour of abolishing relegation, the move would still be unlikely to come about as the league's own rules dictate it would also require approval from the Football Association, which would expect to hear widespread opposition from the rest of the game.
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson on Monday evening branded the possibility of such a change as "suicide" for clubs outside the top flight, while Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas added his voice to the opposition on Tuesday and Wigan chairman Dave Whelan insisted he would pull his team out of the Premier League if promotion and relegation was scrapped in the English top flight.
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