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Blog - Five Aside
By ESPN Staff

Thaksin offers to quit Man City - Report

LONDON, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Manchester City's 'embarrassed' owner Thaksin Shinawatra is prepared to step down from the English Premier League club's board, its executive chairman was quoted as saying in British newspapers on Saturday.

'The man is embarrassed about the indignity brought on the club and the Premier League,' Garry Cook told reporters at the City of Manchester stadium during a press briefing this week at which the former Thai prime minister's future was discussed.

'He (Thaksin) said to me, 'If you need me to resign from the football club as a director, because it would serve the needs of the Premier League, then I'm fine with that as long as that doesn't change any other thing (his ownership)',' Cook said.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Cook met Premier League chairman Dave Richards on Tuesday to establish whether Thaksin had fallen foul of the league's 'fit and proper person' test.

Under Premier League rules, club directors can be dismissed if they are found guilty of corruption by a 'competent court' anywhere in the world.

Thaksin, 59, skipped bail and went into exile in London this month, accusing potential enemies who removed him in a 2006 coup of meddling in the courts to 'finish off' him and his family.

The Supreme Court issued arrest warrants for Thaksin and his wife Potjaman, and seized 13 million Thai baht ($382,800) in bail bonds after he failed to appear in a corruption case.

Since the coup, about $2 billion of Thaksin's assets have been frozen but he still ranks as Thailand's 16th richest person, worth $400 million, in a 2008 Forbes magazine rich list.

Thaksin's flight to London is almost certain to lead to a guilty verdict being handed down in absentia, potentially jeopardising his ownership of Manchester City.

'It is very loose,' Cook was quoted as saying about the Premier League's 'fit and proper person test'.

'It's almost a tongue-in-cheek term that you would use for Premier League football over the last 10 years. There are plenty of unfit and improper individuals.'

'He (Thaksin) has not skipped bail. He's not gone back to face the charges,' Cook added.

'He wants to be at this ground (Eastlands) on Sunday but people may want to come and show their support from his country and he doesn't want to use this as a political platform. And there has been a threat to his safety worldwide.'

City, who host West Ham United in a league match on Sunday, was bought by Thaksin for £81 million ($151.3 million) last year while he was living in exile.

Thailand has started the lengthy process of asking Britain to extradite Thaksin to face trial, although history suggests it will be years before it can get their hands on him, if at all.

One of his Thai lawyer's said on Wednesday that Thaksin planned to seek political asylum in Britain.


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