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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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By ESPN Staff

Premier League monitor Thaksin City situation

As Manchester City's owner Thaksin Shinawatra attempts to seek asylum in the UK as a political refugee from Thailand, Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has insisted he would invoke the 'fit and proper persons test' if he had to.

The controversial rule regarding club owners has come under scrutiny over the last couple of days following the decision of Thaksin to avoid charges in Thailand by flying to England.

Thaksin is facing a series of corruption and fraud charges, while his wife Pojaman is currently on bail after being handed a three-year prison sentence for fraud.

City's season may already be in crisis amid cash concerns as the realisation that Thaksin is unlikely to regain a reported £800m of assets from Thailand, where he was once Prime Minister before being overthrown by a military coup.

Whether Thaksin remains in charge of Manchester City, or indeed whether he is allowed to remain in the UK given a warrant for his arrest has now been issued, his grandiose plans for the Eastlands outfit appear to lie in ruins.

When the People's Power Party, supposedly sympathetic to Thaksin, took charge of a coalition government in last autumn's Thai elections, it appeared only a matter of time before he received back his assets from his country's military rulers.

However, their influence does not appear to spread to the judiciary, who last month sentenced Pojaman, and her brother, to three-year prison terms for tax evasion.

That Pojaman was released on bail, the terms of which have been broken by Monday's development, merely adds to the complexity of the case and to the headaches of the Premier League.

But for City it is bad news as the funds fans thought would be forthcoming for new players will now, almost certainly, not be available.

The Premier League have tended to rely on advice from the Home Office and Foreign Office in such matters and clearly on such a sensitive issue, will do so again.

However, should Thaksin, or any other club owner for that matter, transgress the rules, Scudamore has warned he will not be scared to act.

'Of course, if we feel the rule has been breached, we will invoke it,' he said.

'We will not turn a blind eye to issues of a serious nature.

'It is quite a complex matter and we can't just make a judgement on the spot but clearly we have a club owner who has not yet been found guilty of any offence.

'However, it is an evolving situation and we will look at it.

It has already been suggested many of the deals done by Sven-Goran Eriksson last summer were done with a relatively small down-payment, the same applying to the big money transfer of Jo this summer.

Although Eriksson's successor Mark Hughes managed to halt Vedran Corluka's proposed move to Tottenham at the weekend, his rebuilding plans have been badly affected ahead of next Sunday's opening Premier League game at Aston Villa.

'Thaksin will be making no statements in London while the judicial process remains active and he is not going to get involved in conversations about Manchester City,' confirmed a City source this lunchtime.

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