Blatter: English clubs face credit crisis risk

BERLIN - Debt-laden English Premier League clubs could be hardest hit by the global credit crunch, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said on Saturday. "Touched by the crisis could above all be English Premier League clubs with investors who today have no more money," Blatter told the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper. English football has amassed debts of around three billion pounds ($4.51 billion) at all levels, its football association said last year, with nearly a third of that owed by the top four clubs Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal. Several other teams have struggled to find sponsors this season. "Soccer will be touched by the crisis. With sponsoring affected before broadcasting contracts," said Blatter. He added the credit crunch though would not impact viewer numbers and spectators nor preparations for next year's World Cup in South Africa. "The 2010 World Cup has no financial problem because our partners stayed loyal," said the head of football's governing body. "In a way we are coming back to the Romans who said 'Bread and Games' when the people had a hard time. The modern games are sport and above all soccer. "People are coming to soccer, the stadiums are in most cases full."