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By ESPN Staff

FA powerless in foreign ownership, insists Barwick

The Football Association's hands are tied when it comes to foreign ownership of clubs, chief executive Brian Barwick has insisted.

Five out of 20 Premier League clubs will be foreign-owned when the West Ham takeover by an Icelandic consortium is completed - Chelsea, Manchester United, Aston Villa and Portsmouth are the others.

Barwick said the FA were powerless to intervene but did point out that football clubs had to abide by tough business rules.

He said: 'This is an emotive issue and the FA has to act according to the law, regardless of opinion.

'We cannot discriminate on nationality or insubstantial concerns.

'Football clubs are heavily regulated, not just under football rules but also company law and stock market controls.'

Barwick also said he was pleased with the progress of the England team, who were beaten by Croatia in their last competitive match but drew 1-1 in a friendly with Holland on November 15.

He added: 'Yes I am (pleased). It was a good team performance (against Holland) and the spirit in the camp seems to be excellent.

'We now have eight qualifying matches next year in order to reach Euro 2008. Despite the disappointment of the Croatia game we made a positive start against Macedonia and Andorra.'

Barwick also expressed his concern at the recent trend of coin-throwing from the stands.

He said: 'It is absolutely unacceptable for players' or match officials' safety to be threatened during a match. We are urging clubs to do everything they can in conjunction with the police to identify the culprits. We want those people banned from attending matches.

'It is also vital for fans to play their part in identifying these people who are committing criminal offences.

'We should not let a small number of idiots ruin the reputation of clubs and their true fans, and also ruin the spectacle of attending live football.

'This is a recent trend which has to stop now.'