Ferguson sceptical over club ownership rules

NYON, Switzerland (Reuters) - Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson expressed doubt on Friday over the practicality of imposing regulations on club ownership.

Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson answers journalists questions at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon September 5, 2008. REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud

UEFA has been investigating whether there should be tighter regulations on ownership, an issue that has been in the spotlight again this week after the takeover of Premier League club Manchester City by an Abu-Dhabi based company.

“I don’t know how you can change that,” Ferguson told reporters after a meeting of top coaches at the Swiss headquarters of European soccer’s governing body UEFA.

“For instance, if a team is owned by one or two people and they want to sell it, you can’t restrict it. You can sell shares anytime you like at a loss or a gain -- it’s the nature of the business.”

Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger said he was all in favour of tighter regulations.

“Basically football is the most popular sport in the world. It attracts money and that is quite positive,” Wenger said.

“But is down to the football world to regulate that influx of money well so that it makes the game better not worse.”

Without singling out City, UEFA general secretary David Taylor said the governing body had been considering the subject of club ownership for some time.

“We are obviously aware of what’s been going on and our president Michel Platini has for a number of months been raising this point about the involvement of other businesses in football,” Taylor told a media briefing after the coaches’ meeting in Nyon.

“We already have a regime of club licensing in place whereby clubs are required to meet certain standards but we are doing more investigation into whether it is possible and whether it is even desirable to regulate these situations even more than present.”


Ferguson said he was unconcerned about the takeover of local rivals City.

“I can’t be worried,” he told reporters.

“We have a good setup ourselves and we’ve been working to build up the team we’ve got, so we just have to carry on.

“There are always challenges in football, some years ago it was Chelsea and some years ago it was Arsenal and wherever the challenge comes from we have to accept it. So it doesn’t change anything.”

City’s new owners the Abu Dhabi United Group for Development and Investment made an immediate impact this week when they signed Brazil international Robinho from Real Madrid.

They followed up by suggesting they could mount a bid in the January transfer window for United’s Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

Asked to comment on the speculation about a possible Ronaldo move, Ferguson replied: “They can talk.”

Editing by Sonia Oxley