Fans slam Premier League boss’ $6.4 million ‘golden handshake’

Posted at 5:47 AM, Nov 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-16 09:12:16-05

Nice work if you can get it.

Richard Scudamore is about to step down as the boss of the English Premier League, but the 59-year-old will be getting a $6.4 million “golden handshake.”

The payment will be sourced from the league’s 20 clubs and spread over the next three years as Scudamore continues to be an adviser for the Premier League.

“It was vital that a comprehensive set of non-compete clauses were extended, to ensure the best possible protection for the future of the Premier League,” said the organization in a statement.

Except the payment hasn’t gone down well with the people that fill Premier League stadiums week in week out.

“It appears clubs can stick their hands down the back of the sofa and find £250,000 [$320,000] at a moment’s notice,” said the Football Supporters’ Federation in a statement.

“Fans strongly oppose the ‘golden handshake’ [paid to Scudamore] and we urge clubs not to make a decision which is hugely unpopular with supporters.”

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Fan groups from Tottenham, Chelsea, and Bournemouth all backed the statement made by the FSF, while Liverpool supporters’ group Spirit of Shankly has also been critical of the payout.

“However the Premier League and clubs try and dress up today’s decision, most supporters will look at it and think only one thing — greed,” it said in a statement.

“The initial suggestion that clubs would each put in a quarter of a million pounds was rightly met with derision and anger. Whilst supporters have tribal loyalties, this issue united all in condemnation.”

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Guardian columnist Paul Wilson voiced his opposition to the $6.4 million payment, saying it “marks the formal end of football’s 140-year life as the people’s game.

“The ostentatious nature of the package sends out a terrible message to supporters struggling to meet the cost of their season ticket or grassroots organizations having to make do with inadequate facilities,” wrote Wilson.

Scudamore has spent 19 years in his role as chairman, which will now be split in two with Susanna Dinnage, currently global president of Discovery’s Animal Planet, taking up the position of chief executive in early 2019.

A Premier League spokesperson has emphasized that the payment to Scudamore is not a leaving present, but an exit agreement over three years.

“The decision was made by the Audit and Remuneration Committee and the Non-Executive Directors, supported and endorsed by the clubs,” said a statement.

“It was agreed that it is crucial for the League’s ongoing success that Richard’s unique knowledge and experience remain available in an advisory capacity.

“The payments are in recognition of the outstanding work Richard has carried out over the last 19 years. The Premier League would like to put on record our thanks to Richard for his exceptional contribution to the success of the League.”

However, could Scudamore’s advisory role create problems for Dinnage?

“Spoke to someone who knows the CEO end of the building, they made two interesting points: non-compete clauses are bog standard & usually a condition of the pension deal, & new CEOs never want to be consulted by their predecessors,” wrote the Press Association’s Matt Slater. “It was a leaving gift.”

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Under Scudamore, the Premier League’s worldwide TV rights deals have rocketed in price, increasing from $870 million when the 59-year old took over nearly 20 years ago to over $6 billion now.

New deals from 2019-2022 are estimated to be worth $10.8 billion.

The decision to give Scudamore payment over the next three years has been backed by many club owners, with Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, who also manages the Premier League’s Audit and Remuneration Committee, the first to suggest the move.

Tottenham owner Daniel Levy said it was “absolutely fair,” while West Ham co-owner David Gold said it is “all very appropriate and we are all very pleased. The clubs support the whole action that’s been taken.”