Foreign owners 'want end to Premier League relegation'

Several foreign-owned Premier League clubs want to scrap relegation, according to League Managers Association (LMA) chief Richard Bevan.

Bevan fears that if more clubs are sold to foreign investors they may have enough votes to force changes.

But the Premier League said relegation and promotion were part of its rules and added to the league's strength.

Bevan hopes that a parliamentary inquiry into football governance would also help prevent the proposal.

"We're very keen that the report is successful in helping the Football Association introduce a licensing programme for clubs," he said.

"Because there are a number of overseas-owned clubs already talking about bringing about the avoidance of promotion and relegation in the Premier League.

"If we have four or five more new owners, that could happen."

Nearly half of the Premier League's 20 clubs are under foreign ownership, with rules stipulating that if changes are to be made to the format, 14 clubs must vote in favour of any new reforms.

Blackburn joined the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea in this class when they were taken over by Indian-owned Venky's Group last season.

But the Premier League told BBC Sport that the move would be a non-starter, with the Football Association retaining the power to veto any proposals.

The Premier League clubs have not formally discussed any such move since Bolton chairman Phil Gartside proposed his two-tiered structure two years ago, an idea which was soon dismissed.

However, Bevan still believes it is a possibility, arguing any new owner of a Premier League club would not need to be foreign for them to see there would be money to be made from scrapping relegation.

"It doesn't really matter if you're from overseas or not, does it?" he said. "It doesn't matter whether you're from Birmingham or you're from Burma."

A Premier League spokesman said that they did not recognise LMA chief executive Bevan's claims, which come a week after the government demanded changes to the way that football is run.

Sports minister Hugh Robertson said that an FA-led licensing system would be brought in to safeguard against issues such as financial mismanagement, asset-stripping owners and tax avoidance.

The government also asked for rules to manage club debts and an overhaul of the FA board.

Last Wednesday, Liverpool's managing director Ian Ayre said the Premier League's overseas television revenues should be skewed in favour of big clubs.

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