Tuesday, 12 August 2008

The Wages of Thaksin

The chief executive of the Premier League says he would be willing to submit Manchester City owner Thaksin Shinawatra to a ‘fit and proper person’ test, following the former Thai Prime Minister’s arrival in Britain, claiming asylum, after jumping bail to avoid a corruption trial.

The telecoms-billionaire-turned-politician and his wife fled from charges of corruption and abuse of power despite returning home in February vowing to clear their names, and Thailand has issued international arrest warrants for the fugitive couple. Mr Thaksin’s wife Pojamon has already been found guilty, in a separate trial, of tax evasion.

Although the Premier League has a test to ensure that owners and directors of football clubs are ‘fit and proper’ persons, chief executive Richard Scudamore said: “We have a club owner who has not yet been found guilty of any offence. However, let’s face it, these days anyone with a huge wad of cash can buy a football club nowadays, no questions asked.”

Mr Thaksin released a statement to the media on Monday, in which he said: “I own a Premiership team, and am therefore beyond criticism. Britain will gladly go to war, if necessary, to ensure that my dodgy billions keep Man City afloat. Does anyone ever ask themselves how Abramovitch went from selling plastic ducks from his apartment for a living to being one of the richest men in the world? No, because he owns Chelsea. Does anybody ask where Fayed gets his money from? No, because he owns Fulham. Isn’t Britain wonderful?”

Meanwhile, several other Premiership teams are said to be making discreet inquiries into the finances of Radovan Karadic, Vladimir Putin, the Burmese military junta and Osama Bin-Laden, in case any of them are rich enough to buy themselves immunity from justice through ownership of a well-known footy team.

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