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The Premiership


Burnham Wants To Break Grip of Premier League Top Four

Culture Secretary and Everton supporter Andy Burnham has stepped up his campaign to break the grip of the top four clubs on English football. He wants the Premiership's revenue to be shared out more evenly among its clubs. He wants smaller squads and compulsory quotas of English players in team line ups. His most contentious demand is for the big four to share some of their earnings from Europe's Champions League, ranging from £15m to £40m. The money plays a key role in helping them to entrench their dominant position.

Usmanov Upset at Treatment by Arsenal Board

Lady Nina, Indian GoonerRussian billionaire steel magnate Alisher Usmanov is becoming increasingly frustrated at his treatment by the Arsenal board. Mr Usmanov and his associates feel that they are being treated like any other shareholder. Red and White Holdings.

Arsenal Takeover Battle Edges Nearer

A takeover battle at Arsenal FC edged nearer after US sports entrepreneur Stan Kroenke became the club's biggest shareholder. He leapfrogged Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov by paying a premium for the shares. Mr Kroenke splashed out up to £50m to lift his stake from 20.5 per cent to 28.3 per cent, just short of the 30 per cent threshold which would trigger a full takeover for the North London club. He paid between £8,500 and £10,000 for the shares, which are traded irregularly on London's Plus market.

FIFA's 6+5 Policy In Trouble

Fifa's desire to force the controversial 6+5 blow on English clubs, which has been seen as a major threat to the Premiership, has been dealt a heavy blow by the European Commission. It had hoped that the rule, under which six players in every starting line up would have to be qualified to play for the national team where the club is based, could be introduced under a 'specificity of sport' provision, giving it an exemption from EU legal rules. Last month Fifa delivered a 200-page report compiled by legal experts in support of its claims.

Wenger Hits Out At Tax Changes

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said that the era of foreign domination in the Premiership will 'soon be over' due to the declining value of the pound, which makes transfer fees more expensive, and the imposition in last week's Budget of a 50 per cent tax rate on high earners. All Premiership players fall into the £150,000-a-year bracket subject to the highest tax band and Wenger believes this will lead to an exodus of foreign players this month. They could end up paying an extra 16 per cent in tax when one takes account of the elimination of personal allowances for higher earners.

Parliamentary Group Backs Blatter Plan

Following a year-long investigation into the state of English football, the All Party Parliamentary Group is expected to back Sepp Blatter's plan for a 'six plus five' rule. This would require each team in the Premiership to field a minimum of six players eligible to play for England. The Premier League has dismissed the plan as unworkable and argued that it is incompatible between European law that protects freedom of movement for workers between member states.

Interest Payments Keep Manchester United in the Red

Manchester United set a record for a British football club for full year sales in the year to June 2008. Turnover was up sharply in its three main areas of activity. Matchday receipts rose by 10 per cent to £101.5m. Commercial income - sponsorship, merchandising and licensing agreements - rose by 14 per cent to £64m. The biggest increase was in TV revenue which, on the strength of United's Champions League truimph, surged 48 per cent to £90.7m. Even so, matchday revenue from the enlarged Old Trafford stadium makes a bigger contribution to turnover.

Easter Day Football Matches Kick Off Row

Holiday football matches used to follow a particular pattern. On Christmas Day a club would play a team, not necessarily in their own part of the country. However, there were Christmas Day trains in these days and on one occasion returning Charlton players won a drinking contest with the restaurant car staff. Hung over or not, the return fixture would be played the next day. On Good Friday and Easter Monday, this pattern would be repeated, but with a match on Easter Saturday in between! At least that was the case in London.

Liverpool FC's Commercial Problems

Liverpool FC may be on track for what their fans hope will be another Champions League triumph which would offset their less satisfying Premiership performance. However, in progressing as far as they have, they are punching above their weight financially. When it comes to money as compared with performance on the pitch, Real Madrid are way ahead of them with a financial Deloitte money list table topping annual revenue of £290m compared with £167m at Liverpool. That puts them seventh in the Deloitte European money league, a quarter-finalist's performance.

Sepp Blatter Forecasts Economic 'Tsunami'

Anyone who follows football is familiar with the agenda of Fifa president Sepp Blatter. He, like Michel Platini, resents the success of English clubs in the Champions League (even though both of them may deny it). He also does not like the involvement of big business in football. It is therefore no surprise that he should welcome the global financial crisis as an opportunity to return football to what he sees as its roots, although some of us are sceptical about whether the era of rule by local small businessmen who invested nothing in the team or the stadium was such a golden age.