The chief of the Premier League has confirmed he would be willing to subject Manchester City owner Thaksin Shinawatra to a fit and proper person test.
Thaksin faces corruption charges in Thailand and a warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to appear in court in Bangkok on Monday. He may now seek political asylum in Britain rather than return to his homeland to face charges.
Under the fit and proper persons test “any director is automatically disqualified if convicted of one of a number of offences by a ‘competent court’ anywhere in the world”. Thaksin is currently a “fit and proper” owner as he has not been convicted. He has denied the charges, claiming they were politically motivated.
Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said: “If we feel the rule has been breached, we will invoke it.
“(But) we have a club owner who has not yet been found guilty of any offence.”
The test was introduced to ensure that only “fit and proper people” are owners or directors of Premier League clubs.
It states that “any director of a club is automatically disqualified if convicted of one of a number of offences by a ‘competent court’ anywhere in the world.”
Thaksin is currently facing charges of corruption and abuse of power in Thailand, which he has denied.
Scudamore added: “We will not turn a blind eye to issues of a serious nature (but) it is quite a complex matter and we can’t just make a judgement on the spot.”
Thaksin’s wife, Pojaman, was sentenced to three years in jail for tax fraud two weeks ago but was granted bail. The couple fled to Britain on Sunday after attending the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing.
The Thai government, which has an extradition treaty with Britain, could ask for permission to extradite Thaksin so he can face trial in Bangkok.
Of more immediate concern to City is the financial implications of Thaksin’s decision to flee Thailand. Thaksin is unable to release an estimated £800m in assets frozen by the Thai government in June last year and was seeking new investors in the club prior to his latest exile.
A spokesman for City last night denied claims that Corluka and Stephen Ireland had been offered for sale.
“That is categorically untrue,” he said.