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Bryan Robson recorded among football fixers 'telling buinessman how to break FA rules'
Published : 18 Jul 2011 11:25:32
Former England captain Bryan Robson has recorded among a group of football investors apparently telling would-be businessmen how to break FA rules by buying two clubs. Robson, secretly filmed by undercover reporters posing as investors, brags that struggling clubs can bought cheaply and sold on for hundreds of millions of pounds. He reels off the names of teams such as Birmingham, Leicester, Sheffield United and his 'big-money' punt Sheffield Wednesday as potential targets. His associates tell the fake businessman how to flout strict FA rules on club ownership simply by setting up funds that buy teams on behalf of somebody else. Caught on camera: Former Manchester United and England midfielder Bryan Robson The loopholes that can apparently allow rich money men from foreign countries to cash in on the English Premier League. The Manchester United legend, who won 90 England caps and captained his country, was filmed on Channel 4's Dispatches saying: 'Football's a business.' The comments will come as an insult to millions of fans around the country paying out thousands of pounds each year to follow their sides. Heartbreak for America's soccer heroines: U.S. lose World Cup final in dramatic penalty shoot-out as women fail at final hurdleJust what will Kim Jong-Il make of all this? North Korea say medicine using musk deer glands caused five players to fail drug tests The effect on the clubscould be disastrous as they may face financial uncertainty and poor results as rich business 'toy' with the fans' beloved teams. The debate on club ownership in recent by a host of foreign buy-outs of British football clubs with Manchest CIty, Manchester United, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Portsmouth among those now in the hands of overseas owners. Die-hard fans complain that super-rich owners are unconcerned with the proud heritage and traditions of British clubs. Money talks: Robson made his claims at meetings in Thailand But Robson, who won 90 England caps and captained his country, says the key to making millions is to buy a club on the cheap, win promotion and then sell within a few years. Robson adds on the programme: 'Build it up from nothing and say it was worth ?3million when you bought it andnow you can sell it for ?150m - that's great business by you.' The former footballer is employed by the London Nominees Football Fund - a group 'investing in football clubs, players, franchises, merchandising and sponsorship inthis outstanding growth industry'. Butthe investigation apparently shows Robson and members of the fund explaining ways to break the strict rules governing football club ownership. FA rules state that clubs only have to confirm the identities of people with a shareholding of 10% or more. It is understood that one of loopholes is to set up different funds owned by the same group that have separate shareholdings. The 54-year-old even lists a string of clubs for investors to target. He says that Birmingham, Leicester, Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday could be lucrative. Robson adds: 'But it's how you name it, because you're only allowed to own one club.' Reporters pretended to be representing Indian and Chinese businessmen and were told by Robson that he could use his relationships with former team-mates and managers to help with transfers. Robson, London Nominees chief executive Andrew Leppard and lawyer Steve Burkill attended meetings in Thailand where the former West Brom boss was managing the national side until last month. Captain Marvel: Robson during his England days at the 1990 World Cup As seen in the programme, Leppard apparently explained that one club could be bought through the fund and another club hidden in a sub-fund. FootballLeague chairman Greg Clarke, who was also interviewed for the programme, said: 'We don't want people having the ability to affect results, squad selections, source of managers across a number of clubs -and that's why multiple club ownership is beyond the pale.' Asked if he is confident that he knows who the true owners are of every club in the Football League, he added: 'No I'm not. There's a process of validation that lets the Football League know who the owners are. Who the owners of the owners are gets more difficult. And who the owners of the owners of the owners are gets even more difficult.' Joe Sim, chief adviser to the Thai FA and a friend of Robson, says in another meeting: 'Once you have put ?5m into the fund, I'll arrange for you and me, we have dinner with Sir Alex Ferguson, then Sir Alex Ferguson will tell you that he is going to lend me the players.' Lawyers for the Manchester United manager confirmed Sim is a friend but said: 'He has never discussed the possibility of loaning any Manchester United players.' A spokesman for London Nominees said: 'Any suggestion Bryan Robson would participate in any breach of League rules is strongly denied.'