London (AFP) – Footballing powerhouse the Premier League weighed into Britain’s referendum debate on Monday, saying a departure from EU would go against the “openness” of the league and all of its clubs.
“Nobody bears the scars more than me of having to go and negotiate in Brussels and try and organise things a little bit in our interests in terms of the European machine,” Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore told BBC radio.
But he added: “Ultimately you can’t break away, you can’t just pull out, you have to get in and negotiate and try and organise and try and influence.
“There is an openness about the Premier League which I think it would be completely incongruous if we were to take the opposite position,” he added.
Scudamore criticised the position taken by Brexit campaigners, who have argued that leaving the EU would allow Britain to “take control of its destiny”.
“That doesn’t seem to sit very well when you travel the world like we do, being welcomed because of the fact that we are open for business, open for discussion, and open for cooperation,” he said.
The Premier League generated £3.3 billion (4.3 billion euros, $4.8 billion) of revenue last season, according to a report by Deloitte, and has worldwide television contracts worth £8.3 billion.
Outside of the EU “we would just be, I think, respected less around the world for not wanting to be part of something,” Scudamore said.
But Vote Leave spokesman Robert Oxley saying: “EU rules hurt both our ability to develop homegrown talent and restrict access to the global talent pool.
“That’s the worst of both worlds for football fans and the teams they support,” he said, adding that money saved from paying into the EU budget could be spent on encouraging more grassroots sports.