Ups and downs at risk - Bevan
Bevan claimed the American and Asian owners of Premier League sides would be keen on a franchising model that would fly in the face of English footballing tradition. 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. The LMA chief executive is hoping that can be prevented by the recent Department of Culture, Media and Sport inquiry into football governance, which recommended the FA adopt a licensing system. 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 you'll find that with some of the Asian owners as well. "If you look at sport all around the world and you look at sport owners trying to work out how to invest and make money, you'll find that most of them like the idea of franchises. "If you take, particularly, American owners, without doubt there have been a number of them looking at possibly having more of a franchise situation. "That would mean no promotion or relegation. "That would obviously not be good news for English football. "You need to make sure that the FA is strong enough to ensure that the principles on which our clubs are run, 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, which would expect to hear widespread opposition from the rest of the game. 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 really matter if you're from overseas or not, does it? he said. "It doesn't matter whether you're from Birmingham or you're from Burma." 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. "You create a platform in which if I want to own Shrewsbury Town, Manchester United, whatever, I'm the caretaker of that club and take it from one region to another or play games abroad. "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 problem with 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."