Premier League chairman's role under fresh scrutiny

Potential conflict of interest over Richards son's firm producing merchandise for 2018 bid

The position of Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards has come under renewed scrutiny with the revelation that a company run by his son secured commercial deals to provide merchandise both to the Premier League and to help promote England’s 2018 World Cup bid.

The marketing firm Glue Creative Production Solutions, based in Sir Dave’s home town of Sheffield, insist he had nothing to do with either deal but a potential conflict of interest is being taken so seriously that the issue could be raised at this week’s latest hearing into football governance.

According to Glue’s website, both the Premier League and Football League are clients of the company, whose co-partner is Sir Dave’s son, also called Dave. The company, which supplies a raft of branded gifts, openly promotes its business with the football world though there is no mention of Sir Dave who was a director for roughly a decade before leaving on Dec 31 last year.

Glue proudly claims it was asked by the England 2018 bid team “to produce a range of promotional merchandise to be given away at various events in the UK and also during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The items were to be given to children, adults and also VIPs.”

"Adults received pin badges, pens and leather hand tied coasters, with the VIPs receiving premium pens and hand-made Italian calf leather moleskine notebooks packaged in exclusive branded wrapping.”

Sir Dave was a board member of England 2018 until stepping down in November, 2009, the official line being he could help the international side of the campaign more effectively by working independently.

Intriguingly, another of Glue’s clients is the national league of Thailand for whom they were asked to create a new trophy. The head of the Thai FA is none other than Worawi Makudi, a FIFA executive committee member whose vote England 2018 coveted during their ulimately doomed campaign.

Richards’ son, also called Dave, insisted his conscience was totally clear and that there were no vested interests. “We supply gifts to a whole raft of people, it’s our bread and butter,” he told the website Insideworldfootball.biz. “Sport represents an insignificant amount of our turnover. My dad hasn’t been a director since December of last year and isn’t a shareholder. He has no influence over the business and no active role within the business.”

He said it was totally wrong to infer that the company, whose turnover is understood to be around £600,000, had made money on the back of his father’s position. “Do I see a conflict of interest? No. Neither myself nor my business partner think we have done anything wrong.”

While the FA wouldn’t comment on their involvement with Glue, it is understood that those connected with England’s 2018 bid knew full well that Glue was run by Sir Dave’s son and could pose a potential embarrassment if it became common knowledge at the time.

The Premier League, meanwhile, stressed it had no ongoing contract in place with Glue but did admit it had had dealings with them, insisting however that all tenders follow the same process, with suppliers selected on the basis of cost and value. “They have in the past provided us with an ad-hoc service for small-scale orders of Premier League branded corporate gifts as many other small suppliers have,” a statement said.

Glue has also done business with the Swiss-based European Association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL), of which Sir Dave, who was unavailable for comment last night, also happens to be chairman. The EPFL said in a statement yesterday that Richards had never taken part in any decisions related to Glue and had no concerns about any potential conflict of interest.

Asked how Glue came about providing material for 2018, Richards Jr. said the work was commissioned by the London-based communications and marketing agency Unspun, co-founded by Sara Donaldson who has worked as a consultant on a number of high-profile campaigns, including London's successful bid for the 2012 Olympic Games. “That’s who we were given the work by,” said Richards. “They were the ones who specifically placed the work with Glue.”

When contacted, Unspun declined all comment. Although there is no firm evidence to suggest Sir Dave or Unspun influenced the choice of Glue to provide the merchandise involved because it was run by a member of Sir Dave's family, Damian Collins, who sits on the culture, media and sport committee which is carrying out the inquiry into football governance, said he would raise the issue this week.

"If football organisations he [Richards] is a part of were doing business with a company he had interests in, that does raise serious questions,” Collins told the Yorkshire Post newspaper which first uncovered the story. "It is about the general issue of transparency in football. If Dave Richards had commercial interests that does raise questions about how transparent those interests were."

Fellow committee member Therese Coffey added: "If there are vested interests at play we need to help bring some sunshine into that and that is part of the role of the inquiry."

News
Disruption at Waterloo after a person was hit by a train
newsCancellations and disrupted service after person hit by train
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
The almost deserted Liverpool Echo Arena on Monday
tvCan X Factor last in the face of plummeting numbers auditioning
News
Kirsty Bertarelli is launching a singing career with an album of songs detailing her observations of “real life”
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence