Football League Chair Holds Fear Over Excessive Debt Levels

February 16, 2011

Chairman of the English Football League, Greg Clarke spoke at a UK parliamentary inquiry into soccer governance yesterday, February 15, warning that clubs are heading towards the “precipice” because of excessive debt levels.

Clarke told MPs on the culture, media and sport select committee: “Debt’s the biggest problem. If I had to list the 10 things about football that keep me awake at night, it would be debt one to 10.

“The level of debt is absolutely unsustainable. We are heading for the precipice and we will get there quicker than people think.”

The Football League has set up working parties to investigate all three of its divisions and it will publish a five-year plan aimed at improving the finances and running of its 72 clubs.

Clarke added: “We will hope to catalyse change. We will share it with our chairmen and say this where you are going unless you change now.”

Speaking upon the appointment of David Bernstein as chairman of the Football Association, Clarke added: “I would be amazed if he doesn’t drive hard for independent directors – he comes from a background where it’s normal to have independent directors. And he will have our support.

Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association also shared Clarke’s fears, stating: “The game has never had more income but on the other hand has never had more debt.

“It is going to be open house again if we are not careful. The transfer market can be a vehicle for abuse because of the vast amounts of money involved. There needs to be some form of control on agents.”

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