Fit and proper person test

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The fit-and-proper-person test or director's test is a test undergone by owners and directors of major British football clubs in the hope that it prevents corrupt or untrustworthy businessmen from buying them.


Stephen Vaughan fell foul of the test

The test, introduced in 2004, is mandated by the Premier League, the Football League, the Football Conference and the Scottish Premier League. Anybody who takes over a club, runs one, or owns over 30% of its shares must be assessed. The first director known to have failed the test was Dennis Coleman, director of Rotherham United when they went into administration in 2006 and 2008. He claimed:

"I came in and in effect saved the club. It is totally unfair for me to be disqualified."[1]

In November 2009, Stephen Vaughan, then owner of Chester City, became the first owner to fail the test, after he was legally disqualified from being a director of any company. This was a result of VAT fraud as owner of Widnes Vikings rugby club. He transferred control of Chester to his son, Stephen Vaughan, Jr.[2]

In March 2012, Rangers owner Craig Whyte was found not to be a fit and proper person as the result of an independent enquiry.[3]

In June 2014, Louis Tomlinson, former footballer and member of the boy band One Direction, and John Ryan, businessman and previous Chairman of Doncaster Rovers, launched a bid to buy the club but one month later Ryan was found not to be a fit and proper person due to a lack of funding.[4]

Disqualifying events[edit]

The Premier League has tighter restrictions than the rest of the Football League and Football Conference. In general, a businessman will fail the test if:

  • They have power or influence over another Football League club
  • They hold a significant interest in another Football League club
  • They become prohibited by law from being a director
  • They are filing for bankruptcy
  • They have been director of a club while it has suffered two or more unconnected events of insolvency
  • They have been a director of two or more clubs of which, while they have been director, has suffered an event of insolvency