An influx of billionaire owners to the Premier League was sparked by the arrival of Roman Abramovich at Chelsea in 2003, with the vast majority of clubs in the English top flight now working under the watchful eye of business persons with the deepest of pockets.
Not just anybody with a healthy bank balance is allowed to take control of historic institutions in English football, though, with certain criteria needing to be met by those looking to inherit the reins of clubs that have often been in existence for well over 100 years.
That box-ticking exercise, which is played out during takeover discussions, is often referred to as the ‘Fit and Proper Person Test’, but it is technically known as the ‘Owners’ and Directors’ Test’. What does it entail and how do you pass? GOAL takes a look…
What is the Premier League 'Owners' and Directors' test'?
The Premier League defines its process of identifying whether or not an interested party is deserving of owning a club in England as:
- The Owners’ and Directors’ Test outlines requirements that would prohibit an individual from becoming an owner or director of a club. These include criminal convictions for a wide range of offences, a ban by a sporting or professional body, or breaches of certain key football regulations, such as match-fixing.
The test is applied to prospective owners and directors, who are then subject to a review on a seasonal basis.
The full criteria laid out for those expressing interest in purchasing a top-flight club can be found in Section F of the Premier League Handbook – which can be accessed here.
How are fit and proper Premier League owners assessed?
The Premier League’s ‘Owners’ and Directors’ Test is explained in full across six pages of the organisation’s handbook.
The vast majority of rules that need to be adhered to relate to finances and pre-existing interests in other clubs – with nobody allowed to work as a director of two teams in England.
Among the more notable points that could lead to an application being rejected are:
- If they have failed to provide all relevant information requested by the Premier League
- If they provide false, misleading or inaccurate information
- If either directly or indirectly he/she is involved in or has any power to determine or influence the management or administration of another club or Football League club
- If either directly or indirectly he/she holds or acquires any significant interest in a club while he either directly or indirectly holds any interest in any class of shares of another club
- If he/she becomes prohibited by law from being a director (including without limitation as a result of being subject to a disqualification order as a director under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986
- If he/she is being subject to the terms of an undertaking given to the Secretary of State under the CDDA unless a court of competent jurisdiction makes an order under the CDDA permitting an appointment as a Director
- If he/she has a Conviction (which is not a Spent Conviction) imposed by a court of the United Kingdom or a competent court of foreign jurisdiction
With interest in English clubs continuing to build around the world, the Premier League has vowed to assess its rules and regulations when it comes to matters of human rights.
The league’s chief executive, Richard Masters, has said: “The Owners’ and Directors’ Test has been under a lot of scrutiny over the past 12 months and we’re looking at it again. It’s part of the process of responding to the fan-led review … We’re looking to see if more tests need to be added, if we need to be more transparent and whether those decisions should be approved by an independent body.”
He added on the issue of human rights: “We’ve had some helpful conversations with Amnesty International about those kinds of things. I’m not ready to say how it should change yet because actually it should be across football; it should be us the FA and the EFL agreeing what that test should be, how it should be implemented and how it should be communicated to fans.”
Who are the current owners of Premier League football clubs?
Nassef Sawiris, Wesley Edens
Brighton & Hove Albion
Tony Bloom (75.61%)
ALK Capital (84%)
Steve Parish, Joshua Harris (18%), David S. Blitzer (18%)
Farhad Moshiri (77.2%), Bill Kenwright
Andrea Radrizzani (56%), 49ers Enterprises, York Family & others (44%)
The Srivaddhanaprabha family
John W Henry, Tom Werner
Abu Dhabi United Group (78%), Silver Lake (10%), China Media Capital & CITIC Group (12%)
Glazer family (69%)
Public Investment Fund (80%), RB Sports & Media (10%), PCP Capital Partners (10%)
Delia Smith & Michael Wynn-Jones (53%), Michael Foulger (15%)
Dragan Solak (80%), Katharina Liebherr (20%)
Joe Lewis (70.6%), Daniel Levy (29.4%)
West Ham United
David Sullivan (38.8%), Daniel Kretinsky (27%), David Gold (25.1%), Albert Smith (8%)
Guo Guangchang, Liang Xinjun, Wang Qunbin
Table correct at time of writing on 22/03/2022