Entrepreneur and former Tottenham owner Sir Alan Sugar believes the owners of Premier League clubs need to take swift action on debt.
Sugar, usually seen on TV screens as the star of BBC1 reality TV show ’The Apprentice’, takes on the issue of football debt at on BBC2 tonight in ’Lord Sugar Tackles Football’.
Sugar interviews a number of major figures from the game including Wigan owner Dave Whelan, Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore and football agents.
Sugar says in the programme: “When you look around you see that the collective debt for the clubs is £3.3billion. Most of the clubs are spending more than they receive. It is not a business.”
Lord Sugar was at Tottenham when the original deal was done with Sky TV over Premier League rights and he believes the club owners missed a chance to take action to ensure the long-term financial security of the game.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I feel personally responsible for helping to lay on the amount of money (paid by Sky for TV rights).
“At the second round of negotiations I did point out we should stick half of the money in a trust but I got laughed out of the room.”
Lord Sugar also believes it is too easy for clubs to go into administration as a way of avoiding any long-term off-field problems caused by their financial profligacy.
He added: “It is absolutely outrageous. Clubs when they go bust they need to completely go bust and start from scratch again, instead of going bust on a Wednesday and playing again on a Saturday.”
Lord Sugar admitted some frustration at not having a say in what happened with the game.
He added: “I don’t have any jurisdiction, I just did it (the programme) for the BBC.
“It’s a bit like telling someone who is overweight don’t eat so much. They are not stupid people, it’s just whether they do something about it.”
He also admitted to frustration at the attitude of some club owners and football administrators towards debt.
“I don’t think the people I interviewed, apart from Dave Whelan, came up with anything very constructive.
“Generally there is what I call the ostrich culture. You bury your head in the sand. We know we’ve got a problem.”