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Sep 17, 2008

Blatter raises concerns over ownership of clubs

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has spoken of his concern at the growing trend of ownership in football with Manchester City the latest club to be taken over and believes football has a responsibility to ensure clubs do not get into financial trouble.

With Newcastle United's dreams of a bright future in tatters after billionaire Mike Ashley failed to turn the club around and now looking to sell up, the warning signs are there that a takeover does not necessarily bring success. But of more concern will be the examples of Manchester United and Liverpool who were both essentially purchased on credit.

In an interview with ESPNsoccernet, Blatter spoke of his wish that clubs are managed on a local level and not by rich foreign owners who may use a club as their play thing before moving on to another project and leaving the club without a safety net.

Blatter believes that while clubs are only too willing to welcome new investment they do not consider the long term effects such a move may have. He praised UEFA's Club Licensing system, which aims to preserve high standards and monitor financial matters. Clubs must have a licence to be able to compete in European competition.

"I am concerned but I am very happy that in UEFA they have taken out a lead with this club licensing program, to control what is happening with clubs," he told ESPNsoccernet. "It is not good. A club should be financed by the community where the club is playing."

"The investors who are coming in, they don't put so much money in they only bring guarantees because they are rich.

"But one day they will decide that they've had enough of football, or 'my lady has said she would prefer a Formula One team'. Then what they would do is take the guarantees away and then all of a sudden the club has no more money. It is a dangerous move – a really dangerous move.

"Football authorities must take a look at that and they are doing. UEFA is doing it in Europe. It's also part of a decision taken by the FIFA Congress to look at all the matters of finance in football; the transfer of players, the ownership of clubs, the ownership of the rights of the players.

"It is all a package which is not so much like football - it is more business. Football is first of all a game - and only later business."

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