Ban on loans between associated clubs rejected after failing to reach majority

Ruben Da Silva Neves of Al Hilal SFC reacting after missing a goal scoring chance during the AFC Champions League Group D match between Mumbai City and Al Hilal SFC at DY Patil Stadium on November 07, 2023 in Navi Mumbai, India. | Photograph: Nikhil Patil/Getty Images
  • Proposal came after Saudi links in Neves’ loan deal to Newcastle
  • Man City and Chelsea among clubs to vote against motion

Splits among Premier League clubs were laid bare on Tuesday when a proposed ban on loans between associated clubs was defeated and no approval was reached on a financial redistribution deal with the English Football League.

A motion submitted by the league that would have temporarily banned player loans between clubs that share common ownership – so-called related-party transactions – failed to earn a sufficient majority at the meeting in central London. Meanwhile the long-awaited deal to provide greater financial support to the football pyramid remains unresolved, some two years after the government first endorsed calls for greater redistribution.

The motion to ban related-party loans was defeated on a 12-8 split, with league rules requiring a minimum of 14 votes for any motion to pass. A proposal to change the rules had come about after concerns were raised over Newcastle United potentially using their Saudi Arabian links to acquire Rúben Neves on loan from Al-Hilal this winter.

It is highly unusual for a motion proposed by the league to be rejected by its shareholder clubs but with Newcastle voting against the change, alongside Manchester City, Burnley, Nottingham Forest, Chelsea, Sheffield United, Wolves and Everton there were signs of a potentially consequential divide opening up between the 20 teams.

On the issue of redistribution, league officials remain confident a deal is close. They argue there are only final details to be worked out and that the meeting on Tuesday was positive with every club having articulated its position on the issues openly. But after more than three hours of discussion on the topic and after hopes had been raised that a deal would be done this week, no resolution was forthcoming. The issues which have long prevented an agreement – namely who will pay for the deal and the cost controls attached – remain the key sticking points.

With clubs unable to agree on key measures, the Premier League risks looking divided at a time of increased scrutiny, with the formation of an independent regulator for English football imminent. The government has consistently argued that it would give the regulator backstop powers to enforce a financial settlement if one is not agreed between the football authorities. Ministers are also understood to have believed a deal would have been struck long before now.

Richard Masters, the chief executive of the Premier League, gave a presentation on the regulator’s role during the meeting and sources insist that clubs understand the clock is ticking.