SAF: Rubbish to drop relegation
Several of the biggest Premier League clubs want to do away with relegation and promotion in the top flight, according to League Managers' Association chief executive Richard Bevan. Bevan claimed the American and Asian owners of Premier League sides are keen on a franchising model. 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. Bevan fears that if more teams change ownership, there could be a vote to abolish relegation, a move which would require the backing of two thirds of Premier League clubs as well as Football Association approval. However, Ferguson is leading the opposition. "I don't see where the end product comes in," said the Scot. "There are at least eight teams in the Championship at the moment with great history. "What do you say to those eight teams, they can never play in the Premier League? "You may as well lock the doors. It would be absolute suicide for the rest of the teams in the country, particularly the Championship." As Ferguson pointed out, if the axe fell now, two-time European Cup winners Nottingham Forest would be out, along with Leeds and both Sheffield clubs. "All these great teams are the nucleus of the Premier League many years ago," he said. "The only place you can make money and realise your ambition is the Premier League. You can't take that away from clubs." Earlier, speaking at the Professional Players Federation conference in London, Bevan said: "There are a number of overseas-owned clubs already talking about bringing about the avoidance of promotion and relegation in the Premier League. "If we have four or five more new owners, that could happen." He added: "You'll find that with American owners and some of the Asian owners as well. "If you look at sport all around the world and owners trying to work out how to invest and make money, you'll find that most of them like the idea of franchises. "Without doubt there have been a number of them (American owners) looking at possibly having more of a franchise situation. "That would mean no promotion or relegation and that would obviously not be good news for English football. "If I'm an owner coming in, I must recognise and embrace the history, the tradition, the supporters, the community, the philosophy of actually how this club should be operating and not deciding my club should be taken abroad or whatever." 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 FA. The Premier League clubs have not formally discussed any such move since Bolton chairman Phil Gartside proposed his two-tiered structure two years ago, an idea soon dismissed. However, Bevan still believes it is a possibility, arguing any new owner of a Premier League club would not need to be foreign for them to see there would be money to be made from scrapping relegation. "It doesn't matter whether you're from Birmingham or you're from Burma," he said. A formal licensing system would give the FA the power to prevent clubs operating in this country should they vote to abolish relegation. Bevan said: "We want to see a more formalised licensing programme. "It has to sit with the FA and, ultimately, it has to sit as well with FIFA and UEFA. That has to be the pyramid and structure. "The role that the FA play has to be a much stronger one than in the past. "The RFU and the ECB and the FA are institutions. "And institutions, when they're around successful businesspeople, often move a little bit slower. "Government are important to help them."