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Wed 10 Dec 2008 10:23 AM

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Football fund 'will be banned by Premier League'

Dubai-based bank's initiative to invest in young talent faces obstacle in England.

An investment fund set up by a Dubai-based bank to make money from developing young footballers is likely to be banned from operating in the English Premier League because of its rules outlawing "third–party ownership" of players, it was claimed on Wednesday.

The Hero Global Football Fund, set up by a subsidiary of Emirates NBD, is seeking to attract $100 million of investments from wealthy individuals.

The fund intends to invest in clubs in Europe, Africa, South America and the Far East in return for a cut of young players' transfer fees when they are sold on.

However, following a furore surrounding the Argentinian players Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez who were "owned" by unnamed investors when they signed for West Ham in 2006, Premier League clubs banned outright any third-party ownership of players' "economic rights", the UK's Guardian newspaper reported on Wednesday.

A Premier League spokesman told the paper: "The clubs decided that third-party ownership was something they did not want to see. It raises too many issues over the integrity of competition, the development of young players and the potential impact on the football pyramid."

In November, Emirates NBD launched the fund, with the backing of former football stars Alan Hanson and Glenn Hoddle, will recruit mainly young players from around the world but especially from Africa, South America and the Far East.

It will then seek to make a profit by selling players’ registrations and other economic benefits, such as image rights, to professional clubs.

The Fund has been set up by Emirates Investment Services Ltd, a subsidiary company of Emirates NBD, and will have a life of five years.

At the time of the launch, officials said European clubs, including those in the Premier League, would be a "prime focus" of the fund.

Also on board with the initiative is David Davies, OBE, the former executive director of the FA, and David Elleray, the former top-flight referee.

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