EFL: Not in our interests to prevent 'willing' individuals from owning clubs

Valeri Belokon is hoping to overturn his EFL suspension
Valeri Belokon is hoping to overturn his EFL suspension

The English Football League (EFL) says it is not in its interests to prevent "willing individuals" from owning or investing in any of the 72 football clubs it governs.

READ MORE: Belokon tells Gazette: I'm fit and proper for a role at Blackpool

EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey

EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey

It comes in response to a statement issued by Valeri Belokon, who said there are "obvious" and "compelling" reasons why his suspension should be overturned.

The Latvian, who is banned from holding high office at an English club, has confirmed to The Gazette he is “in the process” of reversing his disqualification after meeting with the EFL last week.

Blackpool FC confirmed last September that Belokon had failed the EFL Owners’ and Directors’ Test after being handed a 20-year prison sentence in Kyrgyzstan for money-laundering and tax evasion.

Belokon, who had resigned as a director at the club the previous month, denies any wrongdoing and claims the conviction ignored the “most basic principles of natural justice”.

In response, an EFL spokesman said: “The EFL welcomes the comments made by Mr Belokon in regard to the application of its rules under the remit of the Owners’ and Directors’ Test, which is an objective assessment against a fixed criteria, to ensure a consistent approach is achieved.

“Last week’s meeting was a useful and productive exercise in that both parties were able to clearly set out their position in relation to the matters which have received much public attention in recent weeks and months.

“As Mr Belokon has outlined, ensuring our rules are appropriately and fairly maintained remains fundamental to the integrity of our competitions in all circumstances. These apply not only in the instance of Blackpool FC, but across all 72 EFL clubs.

“The EFL has committed to continue working with Mr Belokon and his representatives in order to address the current position in line with our regulations.

"It is not in the interest of the EFL to prevent willing individuals from owning or investing in our clubs and we will only do so when our regulations provide that we must.”