Taylor: Premier League must protect clubs
Gordon Taylor has urged the Premier League to do all they can to avoid the sort of situation which has catapulted Liverpool into disarray. After a long-time split, Reds co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett are united again - but only in their fight against the remainder of the club's board, who have agreed a sale to New England Sports Ventures, owners of the Boston Red Sox baseball team. The matter appears to be heading for the High Court next week, with Liverpool in a turbulent state at boardroom level at a time when their energies should be concentrated on dragging the team out of the relegation zone. Taylor can only look on in dismay, knowing Liverpool used to be a byword for football excellence on the field and quiet efficiency off it. And, taking time out from a FIFPro Symposium in Manchester to showcase what giant strides the Professional Footballers' Association has made down the years in its wider work for the community, Taylor believes the sorry mess should be a wake-up call, both for Liverpool and the Premier League. "It is a tragedy to see a top-quality club like that in such turmoil," said PFA chief executive Taylor. "The players will get on with the job but in all my experience, I have never known a club be successful on the pitch if they don't have a settled boardroom. "When it is so unsettling at the top, it filters down. "It is not exactly comforting for a manager when the board is split. That reflects on the players." Taylor contends the Premier League must be certain takeovers are always "for the right reasons". He said: "We understand businessmen want to make a profit, but you also have to recognise the great part Liverpool FC has played in the history of Merseyside." Taylor's answer would be to outlaw highly leveraged buy-outs, such as the one Malcolm Glazer used to gain control of Manchester United. Although the Red Devils have maintained a unified stance inside Old Trafford, many fans are alarmed at the club's finances, despite repeated assurances from chief executive David Gill and sources close to the Glazer family. "When you get clubs like Manchester United and Liverpool bought on a mountain of debt, it is a problem," said Taylor. "I wonder whether we should take a lesson from American sport where takeovers involving a leveraged debt of 20% are not allowed. "You can understand the frustration of supporters when people buy into their club for no reason other than profit. "It can't just be about business. There has to be a sporting side, and also a community aspect. "Whoever eventually gets hold of Liverpool, the Premier League has to be certain those people are doing it for the right reasons; obviously they have to make sure the books are balanced but you want to know they are also looking after the long-term interests of the club." It is a sad situation for Taylor to be commenting on at a time when English football has so much to celebrate. Hopes are high that the 2018 World Cup bid will eventually prove successful, while more top-flight players are giving their time to community projects aimed at social change, either through their clubs or as individuals. "Last year our members made 34,000 visits to social activities," said Taylor. "Many of our players now have their own charity foundations. It is an integral part of the game. "A lot of this work goes on unseen but it should be one of the biggest factors to be taken into account when the decision is made to host the World Cup. "We set a good example in terms of our community programmes, we are experts in crowd control, our anti-racism work is acknowledged as some of the finest in the world. "It is an area where we set a real standard. If FIFA doesn't recognise that I would be very surprised and disappointed."
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