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Premier League

Richard Scudamore rubbishes 'scare-mongering' relegation claims

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore insists the owners of top-flight clubs have "absolutely no appetite" to scrap relegation and promotion.

League Managers' Association chief executive Richard Bevan claimed earlier this week 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 yesterday labelled the suggestion "nonsensical"

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 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."

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.