Tom Vernon: How to deal with the owners of breakaway clubs
Written by Training Ground Guru — April 19, 2021
TOM VERNON, the founder of Right to Dream, says a commitment to the English football pyramid should be a key part of the fit and proper person test for prospective club owners.
Yesterday it was revealed that England’s ‘Big Six’ - Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham - were among 12 clubs planning to create a breakaway €10bn Super League.
The league would comprise 12 founder clubs (the others being Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus), plus an additional three, as yet unnamed, founders, and five teams that would qualify on an annual basis depending on their domestic league performance.
The founders of the midweek league could not be relegated, effectively making it a closed shop and thus threatening the idea of the football pyramid, in which any team can, in theory, go right from the bottom to the top. In England, this would be through the seven tiers of the National League to the Premier League and European qualification.
Writing on LinkedIn, Vernon posted three recommendations about how to deal with the owners of want-away clubs:
"1. We introduce a contract within the fit and proper persons test that makes a commitment to the domestic pyramid. Withdrawal leads to your license to own being revoked. All owners should resubmit to the test for the start of the new season. For precedent here look at the NBA's outstanding leadership in dealing with the racist Donald Sterling of the LA Clippers. If you are not values aligned you will be forced out.
2. We introduce a Super Tax for football clubs looking to operate in the UK outside the pyramid. I think $400m a year should so it. All funds to grass roots.
3. Fans of these clubs grow a pair and make it very clear they won’t be attending games."
Right to Dream has a 10-point manifesto that includes the messages “privilege can make us blind” and “we know that football has soul; it can’t be sold.”
Vernon set up Right to Dream Academy in Ghana more than 20 years ago, with the objective of helping African footballers achieve their dreams, whether they in professional football in Europe or at an Ivy League college in the United States.
Since then, Right to Dream has taken part-ownerhip of FC Nordsjælland in Denmark as well as opening an Academy in Egypt, with plans to launch in England in future too.
The founding clubs of the European Super League argue that Uefa, which will announce plans for a new 36-team Champions League today, takes too much in sponsorship and media rights from European completion, when they are shouldering the risk in terms of transfer fees and player salaries.