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Premier League clubs vote down temporary ban on related-club signings

The ban fell short by two votes.

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Al Fateh v Al-Hilal - Saudi Pro League Photo by Yasser Bakhsh/Getty Images

The Premier League clubs voted against a proposal that would have temporarily banned loan moves between associated / related clubs for the January transfer window. All 20 clubs were on hand at a fast-tracked meeting to rule on the proposal, which was billed as a temporary measure to cover the upcoming transfer period until a more considered, permanent rule could be put in place. A vote on tougher rules governing commercial deals between “associated parties” also failed.

The votes required at least a two-thirds majority (14 clubs) to pass. It fell short by two votes — 12 clubs voted for the temporary measure, 8 clubs voted against it. Those eight clubs were Newcastle, Sheffield United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Everton, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Nottingham Forest, and Burnley according to The Times.

Arsenal voted for the proposal, which would have limited their ability to sign players from Colorado Rapids. There is an Auston Trusty joke in there somewhere.

The Premier League defines a related party as an entity “having material influence over the club or (being) an entity in the same group of companies of the club” and looks to the “substance of the relationship and not merely the legal form” in making those determinations. If a club wishes to transact with a related party or make any deal that the Premier League board has reasonable grounds to suspect is anything other than an arm’s length transaction, an independent firm will review the deal to determine with it is at fair market value or artificially inflated / deflated.

The Times reports that there was “particular anger” from some of the Premier League clubs that Saudi-owned Sheffield United voted against the proposal. The Blades, like the other clubs voting down the measure, are part of a multi-club setup — United World Group owns Belgian club Beerschot and French club Chateauroux.

Manchester City (City Football Group - in varying ownership percentages): Melbourne City, Mumbai City, NYCFC, Montevideo City Torque, Troyes, Lommel, Girona, Sichuan Juniu, Yokohama F. Marinos, Palermo, Bahia.

Chelsea (BlueCo): RC Strasbourg, reported interest in acquiring several additional clubs

Everton (777 Partners): Genoa C.F.C., Standard Liege, Red Star F.C., CR Vasco da Gama

Wolverhampton: owner’s wife recently purchased Swiss club Grasshoppers Zurich, no official ties between the clubs as yet

Nottingham Forest: Olympiacos

It’s not immediately clear why Burnley voted against the proposed temporary ban.

Perhaps more than any other club, Newcastle stand to benefit the most from the ban failing. The PIF own four clubs in the Saudi Pro League, all of whom spent the summer acquiring talent. Most notably, PIF-owned Al-Hilal bought Ruben Neves from Wolverhampton, a move that many thought at the time was a precursor to a move to Newcastle. That concern has only grown since the 10-month suspension of Sandro Tonali came down. Newcastle have denied there was any interest or intention to sign Neves.

We’ll see if they change their tune once the January transfer window opens. Hopefully nothing comes of the failure to pass a temporary ban, but I suspect something will. And when it does, it will be yet another blow to the competitive integrity of the Premier League. It seems like there have been a lot of those recently.

The temporary measure not passing is another strong indicator that the Premier League needs some form of independent oversight. The clubs have resisted outside regulation, insisting they are capable of self-governance.