Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Blackburn takeover probe ruled out

Jack Straw

The Premier League has dismissed an MP's calls for an investigation into Venky's takeover of Blackburn and says it is confident the club will remain financially sustainable despite relegation.

Jack Straw, MP for Blackburn, has accused the Premier League of "a wilful neglect of its responsibilities" and called for an investigation into how the Indian poultry giants were persuaded to buy the club.

However, the Premier League has seen Venky's financial plans - including one based on the club being relegated - and are confident Rovers will remain financially sustainable especially as the owners are trying to run it on a break-even basis.

The Premier League says their 'owners' and directors' test' and financial rules work to ensure that clubs remain sustainable but cannot ensure "competency".

Straw wrote in the Lancashire Telegraph: "At the heart of the Premier League's wilful neglect of its responsibilities is its so-called 'fit and proper person' test [forerunner of the owners' and directors' test].

"The test is laughable and almost everyone in the business knows this. It allows no period of probation for new owners, no assessment of their managerial competence, no disclosure of the insidious role of agents.

"The Premier League must now mount a full investigation into what business model Venky's thought they were buying and how much money has been made by those who sold them this model.

"I cannot believe that this Indian family poultry business had any idea of the financial and reputational risks they were taking on. Why were they not warned?"

Premier League communications director Dan Johnson said: "The owners' and directors' test is an objective and legally sustainable mechanism, which goes above and beyond UK Company Law, to ascertain if any prospective owner or director of a Premier League club has been convicted of offences that should preclude them from that level of involvement.

"It is not, and cannot be, a test of competency in respect of decision making at a club."