Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Thaksin Shinawatra Not Fit & Proper

Despite all the rumours of human rights abuse, Thaksin Shinawatra passed the Premier League club owner “fit and proper test”. Why? Because he had money. Lots and lots of money.

But now Shinawatra is in all sorts of trouble. The Thailand Supreme Court has issued a warrant for his arrest, after he failed to appear in court to answer charges of corruption and tax evasion.

He’s now fled to England, but seems there’s a good chance he’ll be convicted in his absence, at which point the Premier League people will have to re-think Shinawatra’s fit and properness.

Here’s how Premier League chief exec Richard Scudamore sees it:

We have to establish the status of his return to England and where that leaves him as regards to the legal process in Thailand. Our rules areclear. Somebody has to be convicted of something before they fall under the remit of the ‘fit and proper person act’. Until such a time as he is convicted, he falls within the rules. But we have always said that the test is meaningful and has to be applied. We need to make sure that if he is guilty of anything we will deal with it.”

In the meantime, an English football club is turning into a joke. There were big ambitions at Manchester City this season. New boss Mark Hughes thought he was getting in on something big - remember when they were going to sign Ronaldinho?

But now it seems the money is as lacking as the morals. There were all kinds of rumours this week, and they didn’t involve world class Brazilian superstars, they involved the club selling Vedran Coruka and Stephen Ireland in order to balance the budget - without Hughes’ permission.

Hughes could be ready to walk away from the whole mess, and you can’t really blame him.

It seems that most of Shinawatra’s fortune is frozen in Thai bank accounts, and the chances of his getting it back don’t look good at this point.

And so Richard Scudamore will soon be able to declare Shinawatra not a “fit and proper” to run a Premier League club. A conviction in the Thai courts will be the official reason, but I’m sure the turnaround in Shinawatra’s financial fortunes will make the decision a lot easier.

Whatever happens at Man City, the Premier League is going to come out of this with it’s reputation damaged, because the league was too blinded by large sums of money to recognize an unfit and proper club owner when they saw one.

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