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Aug 25, 2010

Taylor call for U.S. style limit on club debt

Gordon Taylor, the highly influential and respected Professional Footballers Association leader, has called for much tighter and more stringent financial regulations for English clubs.

• League seeking answers on Foxes

With Manchester United's owners suffering more financial turmoil in their US business, Leicester City's takeover yet to be ratified by the Football league and Liverpool's potential takeover shrouded in intrigue, Taylor calls for an American style ceiling on leveraged takeovers in English football.

Taylor, the PFA executive, told Soccernet in an exclusive interview: "In gridiron football and baseball, clubs cannot be bought with over 20% leveraged debt.

"There has been great financial priority given to these issues by the Premier League and the Football League, with proper audits and tougher financial criteria.

"But in my opinion, it needs to go a lot further. I cannot tell the Premier League or Football league what to do or how to do it, but I do have my opinions, and I think what happens in the States with a 20% limit on leveraged debts in any takeover makes great sense to me and there is no reason why we cannot learn from American sports if it is appropriate and can apply to what is occurring over here in this country."

Manchester United carry the biggest debt by far at nearly £800 million, Liverpool have a £237 million debt to the Royal Bank of Scotland while West Ham's new owners David Sullivan and David Gold first revealed that the Hammers debts were £10 million when they took over in January.

Taylor is also concerned about players continuing to negotiate image right deals, benefit trusts, and other additional contractual vehicles rather than straight forward salary and the financial impact it can have on a club.

Taylor said: "They are areas that are very vulnerable for a number of reasons. They are under threat from the [Inland] Revenue, and players must be extremely carefully because they are the areas most at risk if a club runs into financial difficulties as we saw at Portsmouth and elsewhere.

"But even the biggest of clubs are vulnerable and it would be naive to think that even a club like Liverpool wouldn't run into such difficulties. We are in a credit crunch, a recession and football clubs are vulnerable, living on debt, and if results dip on the pitch then supporters will pull out with all the financial consequences that go with it."

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