Andy Burnham calls for stronger rules for club owners as Salford raise £250,000 | The Sun

ANDY Burnham has told sports to sort out their fit and proper persons' tests to prevent clubs being targeted by unscrupulous groups.

And the political heavyweight feels football’s is hardly worth the paper it is written on.

The man touted by many as the next leader of the Labour Party is seeing issues in his personal and professional life.

His beloved Everton is currently in a period of exclusivity with Americans MSP Sports Capital while rugby league side Salford is currently trying to become the first top flight community-run club after struggling to pay the bills.

That is a remnant of the Marwan Koukash era, which saw the businessman – who has recently been declared bankrupt – promise big but deliver little.

And Mayor of Greater Manchester Burnham wants action by governing bodies.

He said: “We’ve got a fit and proper persons' test in football in name only at times. It’s been way too weak and I support moves towards a statutory regulator for football.

“In football, the governing bodies have shown they’re not capable of separating out the vested interests from the wider interests of the game.



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“There’s a need for reform in terms of how clubs can be bought and sold. You don’t want to make it too stringent so no-one can come in but you do need to have checks and balances.

“Sadly, they’ve not been in place at times and a lot of the clubs, the proud names we know and love, are at risk at times – that’s not right.

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“In rugby league, there’s a parallel with lower league football, where it’s easier for people to move in with an eye on the assets and what they may sell them on for.

“We don’t protect our clubs from that kind of speculation. At Bury, it was way too easy for someone to come in with other intentions.

“There has been some improvement in terms of sponsorship but all clubs are living a hand to mouth existence at times, especially if you’re slipping towards the relegation places.”

Burnham is one of the highest profile backers of Salford Red Devils’ community share offer, which will see hundreds of people own it after reaching its initial £250,000 target.

And he believes going down that route is the way to go, adding to BBC Radio Manchester: “Salford is a club with a history that’s barely paralleled – 150-years-old, what a club and we want to secure it for future generations.

“We believe the best way of doing that is via a community share offer. For me, this shores up the foundations of the club permanently.

“So-called white knights can roll into clubs saying, ‘We’ll do this, we’ll do that,’ and you find out their intentions aren’t quite what they were meant to be – look at Bury FC.

“There’s also so much potential at the stadium site. We’re looking to see if we can get it into public ownership, then we’ll be able to back the board at a community-owned club.

“The potential’s there – Salford have succeeded in the face of adversity. It’s got real strength and potential.

“I said to people, ‘Your parents, grandparents and great grandparents built this club. We owe it to them to make sure it's permanently here for the generations to come.’

“And in my experience of watching professional rugby league and football, the supporters know best. If clubs listened to them more, they’d normally make better decisions.”

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