A 'Fit And Proper' Approach

Recent sporting headlines have been dominated by the attempts of sporting regulators to rid their sports of "bad apples" by exercising powers devolved under 'fit and proper person' rules. This has been seen most notably in the context of football and horseracing.

In relation to football, the relevant 'fit and proper person' test and the ruling body will depend on the tier of football. Both the Premier League and the Football League have introduced rules, while The FA has its own rules which apply to Conference clubs.

It was in the context of the FA's rules that English football saw its first instance of a club owner being required to reduce his shareholding as a result of failing a 'fit and proper person test'. Stephen Vaughan – the owner of Chester City – fell foul of the rules following an investigation into alleged VAT fraud and a decision taken by the Insolvency Service to disqualify Vaughan as a company director for 11 years.

The Premier League revised its test over the summer of 2009. It is now more wide-ranging in its application, encompassing any person who holds 30% or more of a club's shares (as opposed to requiring the person to have 'control', as it did previously). Sulaiman Al-Fahim was the first owner to pass the new test when his acquisition of Portsmouth FC was approved.

Another high-profile case involving 'fit and proper person' criteria is that of Flavio Briatore, whose future as a co-owner of Queens Park Rangers is at stake. If Briatore is unsuccessful in his legal challenge, through the French courts, against a life ban from Formula One it is arguable that he could have to be required to exit the club under the Football League's 'fit and proper person' test.

The Football League's rules state that...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT