FIFA's woes could be clubs' gain, says Fox

  • Football
  • Wednesday, 10 Jun 2015

LONDON (Reuters) - Leading clubs could benefit from the corruption storm engulfing FIFA if the world soccer body fails to clean up its act convincingly, Aston Villa's American chief executive Tom Fox suggested on Wednesday.

"I could actually spin it around that there may be partners looking for places to spend money that (they) weren't prior (to the scandal)", he told a Sports Industry Breakfast Club meeting.

Fox, previously chief commercial officer at Arsenal, said football's ability to attract and retain sponsors at club level could even be strengthened by the turmoil on the world stage.

"I don't think the individual clubs necessarily think that what's happening in FIFA rubs off at all on the brand equity of the clubs themselves," he said.

"One of the partners at Arsenal, Emirates, was also a partner of the World Cup and they chose not to renew that deal when it expired.

"I'm sure that had quite a bit to do with what they knew about the people they were dealing with and the way that they saw the organisation behaving."

The FBI are investigating bribery and corruption at FIFA, including scrutiny of how the World Cup hosting rights were awarded to Russia, which won the bidding for 2018, and Qatar, which is due to host the finals in 2022.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter tendered his resignation on June 2, four days after having been re-elected for a fifth term.

The announcement came less than a week after Swiss police staged a dawn raid on a luxury hotel in Zurich and arrested several officials on corruption charges filed by U.S. prosecutors in New York.

Fox said none of Villa's commercial partners had raised any concerns with him about the scandal affecting their relationship and that was because "Villa is a club like the other clubs in the Premier League that acts with a lot of integrity."

That integrity, he said, could prove even more attractive if FIFA failed to deliver change.

"If this wave of change that looks to be sweeping through doesn't end up being a wave of change, maybe some of those sponsor dollars that are currently funding that organisation are now available more broadly in the market," he said.

"So it could be a positive for the leagues. The Premier League and Villa deliver incredible value to our partners...we deliver global presence around a competitive league top to bottom.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Martyn Herman)

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