Supporters’ groups have condemned the £5million farewell to outgoing Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore as “shameful greed”.
The Premier League on Thursday agreed to pay Scudamore the leaving gift in recognition of his “outstanding work”.
The money will be paid over three years and will depend on the 59-year-old agreeing to a “comprehensive set of non-compete clauses” in terms of the roles he takes on in the future. It will also demand his availability as an adviser to his successor Susanna Dinnage.
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy and West Ham co-owner David Gold were among those to speak publicly in support of the deal, which has been met less than favourably by fans’ groups.
“However the Premier League and clubs try to dress up today’s decision, most supporters will look at it and think only one thing – greed.
“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.
“Those involved in today’s decision should spend some time on their journey home quietly reflecting on the damage done. They should hang their heads in shame.”
In a statement, the Premier League said the pay-off deal was decided upon by its audit and remuneration committee and “supported and endorsed by the clubs”, whose bosses were in London on Thursday for a Premier League shareholders’ meeting.
The statement added that the farewell bonus was “in recognition of the outstanding work Richard has carried out over the last 19 years” and the league would like to put on record its thanks for his “exceptional contribution to the success of the league”.
Before Thursday’s meeting, Cardiff were the only club to say they backed the idea of giving Scudamore a leaving bonus but Burnley joined them.
Clarets chairman Mike Garlick was on the committee that led the search for Scudamore’s successor and the remuneration board.
Levy described the payment as a “central cost”, which implies clubs will not hand over the sum directly.
“We’re all very supportive,” Levy told reporters outside the hotel which hosted the meeting.
“It was absolutely fair payment. It was for the Premier League to make a decision, it’s a central cost. All the clubs are behind it.
“He has unique knowledge and experience, which is going to be ongoing and benefits the Premier League for the next three years.”
Gold admitted there had been no vote on the deal, saying: “It’s the committee, that’s what they’re there for. That’s their job and what they’re doing.
“He deserves everything he gets. This is all very appropriate. We’re all very pleased. And the clubs do support the whole action that’s been taken.”
That said, Scudamore has been paid considerably less than the bosses of the leading sports leagues in the United States and has turned down previous offers to earn more money elsewhere, most notably when he rejected the chance to run the global sports agency IMG a decade ago.
Defenders of the gift will also point to the fact that the payments are contingent on him being available as a consultant and a contractual commitment that he cannot take his expertise to a potential rival.
All that, however, has not placated fans’ groups, who have already complained that clubs routinely tell them they cannot find the money needed for cheaper tickets, subsidised travel or community projects but appear to have come up with £250,000 each for Scudamore, who has already been paid well for his work.
The Spirit of Shankly statement added: “The talk throughout has been giving him a financial reward for the riches received. They’re using money from clubs whilst supporters are left having to plead and ask for any redistribution of such wealth.
“It’s clearly one rule for those at the top, and another for the rest of us.”