Dein urges sound business sense amid risks of takeover spree

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The Independent Online

The Arsenal vice-chairman, David Dein, warned yesterday that football is being distorted by transfer risks and reckless spending on player wages.

Dein, who is also head of the elite clubs group G14, predicted that the current wave of foreign takeovers of English clubs would continue, but added that the new owners must run the sides as proper businesses.

"The situation with takeovers is here and it's going to continue," he said. "As long as they are run on proper business lines as sustainable businesses we have not got a problem with it. It's where money which has nothing to do with football is thrown at it, then it distorts the market, both in salaries and in transfers.

"A club with gates of 60,000 will obviously generate more money than a club with 30,000 gates and, if you are more successful, you get more money from television and sponsorship. It's where someone just says, 'Here's another £50m, here's another £100m, just go and have a good time', that does create a problem."

Chelsea, Manchester United, Portsmouth, Aston Villa and West Ham are the Premiership clubs recently taken over by foreign owners, while Liverpool are expected to be taken over by the ruler of Dubai. Dein was careful not to mention names, but said that Arsenal would stick to their policy of investing in youth and scouring the world for talent.

"We just have to be cleverer than that and do it, which we do in our own way," he said. "We make sure it's a sustainable business. We want it to be as even as we can, but certainly in situations where people do throw a lot of money at it, it's something we have to deal with."

Fabio Cannavaro, who captained Italy to victory at the World Cup, was named World Soccer's World Player of the Year yesterday - only the second defender to win the honour in the award's 25-year history. The last defender to do so was his compatriot Paolo Maldini in 1994.

Cannavaro's victory was one of the most comprehensive in the poll's history as he collected 40 per cent of the readers' vote conducted annually by the influential magazine. He got three times as many votes as the Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o and Thierry Henry of Arsenal, who finished second and third.

Cannavaro, who was named European Footballer of the Year last month, is one of three candidates for the Fifa World Player of the Year, which will be announced on Monday.

Other award winners were Marcello Lippi, of Italy, who took coach of the year, while the European champions Barcelona were named World Team of the Year. Lionel Messi, of Barcelona and Argentina, won Young Player of the Year.

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