Scudamore hits back at Portsmouth

Premier League chief plays down legal threat and insists club will receive its TV money.
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Claims that Portsmouth may attempt to sue the Premier League over the transfer embargo imposed on them are wide of the mark, according to the league's chief executive, Richard Scudamore. The club's own chief executive, Peter Storrie, said yesterday that he felt the club had a "good case", but Scudamore says they would effectively be suing themselves.

"The whole notion of suing the Premier League is interesting because you're suing yourself as a club, and the other 19 clubs," he said.

Scudamore added that the South-Coast club would get the remaining £2m of television money – the rest has been distributed to their creditor clubs – when they have convinced the FA over their financial arrangements. Portsmouth say they have settled their debts with other clubs.

"Portsmouth know the score. We need documentation at the Premier League which is as watertight and as strong as the original contract on which the players were signed," Scudamore said.

"The minute we've got absolute proof that any contractual amendments they've made with other clubs are as robust as the original contract that was signed, then obviously that money gets released."

Scudamore also said that any top-flight club which went out of business would be guilty of "rank bad management". Portsmouth have struggled to pay their players three times already this season.

"You can't say it is impossible to imagine a Premier League club going out of business, that would be foolish," he said. "Given the amount of central income that is generated by the Premier League, it would be down to absolutely rank bad management if a club itself was actually to go into administration."

Scudamore denied that the Premier League could have done something sooner to avert the financial crisis at Portsmouth and put the blame squarely on the club's owners. He said: "We can only go by our rule book. I don't think anyone wants the Premier League running football clubs, it's very much for the owners to run the football clubs.

"In fairness to the people at Portsmouth and Peter Storrie and the people who are running that club, they are working very, very hard and have worked extremely hard to live the dream for Portsmouth.

"They've had a succession of owners through there and the people there now are scrabbling very hard to make sure this football club stays alive.

"There's only a certain point at which we can intervene. We changed our rules in September and now, when we see the financials [reports] that come in from clubs at the end of March, we will be able to take a stronger role to come in and make sure they are sustainable."

Scudamore revealed that the "Fit and Proper Persons" test was not designed to ensure an owner had enough funds to run a club.

He said: "Do you want to just have a club that barely survives in the Premier League? Do you actually want to own a club that is safely mid-table? Do you want to own a club that pushes for Europe? Do you want to own a club that guarantees being in the Champions League?

"Your attitude and answers to those questions give you an answer as to what sort of money might be required and we at the Premier League are never going to be intervening to the level where we decide how much it needs to run a club.

"Debt per se is not bad. It's the amount of debt relative to your income that's the critical issue."