‘Get out of it’: Chief who sold Chelsea to Roman Abramovich slams foreign owners, tells United, Liverpool to leave Premier League

Ex-Chelsea supremo Ken Bates has said that American-owned Man United and Liverpool should have been allowed to resign from the Premier League last year, slating England’s “weak” Football Association (FA) over foreign owner rules.

Businessman and hotelier Ken Bates bought the Blues for less than $2 in 1982, playing a role in the creation of the Premier League ten years later before becoming one of the most prominent and notoriously forthright owners in the English top flight.

Despite his successful sale of his shares in Chelsea to Roman Abramovich for around $24.5 million in 2003, Bates believes that the governing body should tighten its rules around foreign ownership and has been unimpressed with the approaches he has perceived rival Premier League heavyweights as taking.

“Manchester United owned by Americans. Liverpool owned by other Americans,” Bates told The Telegraph, discussing the much-maligned Project Big Picture discussions that were panned when they were held over proposals to transform English football last autumn.

“The first thing they said was, ‘let’s reduce the Premier League by two clubs.’ Let those two resign.

“Get out of it. Nobody asked for them to come. The great thing about English football is you kick off [at the start of each season] in August and all start even.

“What you did 20 years ago has nothing to do with what you do today. The trouble is that the FA are very weak.

“I found that when I was on the FA council and the FA board. They should have introduced rules preventing foreign ownership of football clubs.”

Bates, who later took over at current top-flight side Leeds during their struggles, credited himself with “rebuilding” Chelsea and said that their win in the 1998 Super Cup was his crowning glory.

“We were champions of Europe and 16 years before we were bankrupt,” he claimed. “We couldn’t pay the players’ wages. It hasn’t been a bad journey.”

Now based in Monaco, Bates believes that English football authorities should add taxes to payments involved in the transfers of foreign players and charge outgoing transfer fees against tax.

“That will bring down the transfer fees, reduce the number of foreign players coming in and let the English players play in their English league,” he argued.

Bates sold his stake in Leeds to Bahrain-based GFH Capital in 2013. He was briefly installed as club president at Elland Road before claiming that he had been sacked over a dispute involving a company jet contract, said to have been worth around $700,000 over three years and partly used to transport him between Monaco and the UK.

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