English Premier League attacks European overhaul

Richard Scudamore, the chief executive of England's FA Premier League, has attacked Richard Caborn, the United Kingdon's Minister for Sport, for backing plans for a radical overhaul in the running of football across Europe. "UEFA is not and should not be the governing body of European football — they have their own competitions to run and should be free to do so, as we have ours. The idea that the rest of European football can decide what is best for the English game is a nonsense; just as it should be down to the Germans, French, Italians, Spanish, Dutch etc as to how they run their leagues,” he wrote in an exclusive article for The Times.

Scudamore’s disagreement comes as European Union ministers sit down in Brussels today to discuss a White Paper for sport, which could lead to legislation by 2008. Caborn, a long-time football supporter and Minister for Sport since 2001, believes that an Independent European Sports Review, which has been drawn up by José Luis Arnaut, a senior Portuguese politician, should be used as a basis for the White Paper. However, Scudamore says: “The introduction of the proposed reforms would put all this success at risk.”

While saying that the Premier League has “huge respect” for Caborn and the work that he has done, Scudamore argues against any rules aimed at improving financial stability through cost controls. Caborn has always been concerned that sport is not just a business. He believes it should also have a role in communities and the wider society because it cuts across such policy areas as health, education and social inclusion. This is why when the UK held the presidency of the EU, he initiated the European Sports Review.

Scudamore claims that the Premier League has managed to be “inclusive, transparent and accountable through good governance and engaging on a range of community, education and social inclusion programs”. He points out the Premier League has just agreed an increase to £35 million to back these programs while the Treasury also receives £500 million in tax from the Premier League, its clubs and the players.