Clubs should open up finances: English FA

by Mark van Aken on Mar 29, 2011

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The head of the English football association told a parliamentary inquiry on Tuesday that it is "unacceptable" for clubs not to disclose full information about their finances and ownership to supporters.

Manchester United fans are unhappy about the lack of transparency from the owning Glazer family about how they paid off around STG220 million ($A343.37 million) of high-interest debt used to fund their leveraged 2005 takeover.

And United Chief Executive David Gill told an earlier session of a British parliamentary hearing into English football that the club would not "open a dialogue" with fans "at war with the owners".

But David Bernstein, the chairman of The Football Association, told Tuesday's session of the inquiry that such a stance is unacceptable.

"Supporters are entitled to full information from their clubs and proper dialogue about ownership ... and finances," Bernstein told legislators discussing the general situation. "They are the key stakeholders and there should be a free flow of information between clubs and supporters, anything less is unacceptable."

Second-tier club Leeds has also refused to name its financial backers, who have rescued a club that came to the brink of collapse after overspending as it reached the Champions League semifinals in 2001.

"I think supporters should know who owns all clubs," Bernstein said when asked about Leeds.

The existing rules don't allow the FA to be transparent about the ownership of Premier League or Football League clubs.

But Bernstein and FA general secretary Alex Horne, who have both been appointed in the past year, will meet both those bodies to discuss the situation.

Horne said they want to "reset the architecture".

Discussing debt at clubs, Bernstein said English football could benefit from the wider implementation of UEFA's financial fair play rules, which are designed to curb clubs' spending on buying and paying players.

Clubs wanting to play in the UEFA competitions are required to break even starting in the 2011-12 season. Persistent loss-makers can first be barred from the 2014-15 Champions League or Europa League.

"I would like to see financial fair play potentially extended across the rest of the Premier League and possibly the Football League as well," Bernstein said.