Sutcliffe concerned with Real frenzy

LONDON - English clubs should not try and compete with Real Madrid's incredible spending frenzy, Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said on Thursday. Real had a world record 80 million-pound offer for Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo accepted on Thursday having already splashed out around 60 million on AC Milan's Brazilian playmaker Kaka this week. Sutcliffe, a Manchester United fan, questioned whether the kind of money Real Madrid are spending was sustainable. "We are concerned about the sustainability of the game. They are big businesses and this type of money is around but we must make sure there is a link and that it's sustainable because we don't want to see clubs go to the wall," he said in an interview on the BBC. The Government has been concerned about the finances of English football for some time and last year wrote to the Premier League, Football Association and Football League. A spokesman for the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) said on Thursday that all three bodies had replied in the past few weeks, adding that the Premier League was going to toughen up its fit and proper person test for those interested in buying clubs. FOREIGN HANDS While the Premier League is regarded as the best in the world, Sutcliffe said there were areas of concern over the management and ownership of clubs, many of which are now in foreign hands, and the influx of foreign players. "There are several issues around the management of clubs and the transparency of clubs, home-grown players and a number of things we want to see the game sustain right the way through," Sutcliffe said. "We have the most successful league in the world in the Premier League, long may that continue, but we have got to make sure that the grassroots of the game are protected and its sustainable right through our league system." Sutcliffe said Ronaldo's proposed move to Real would be good business for United, who spent only 12 million pounds to sign him from Sporting in 2003, but said they should not always be looking abroad for replacements. "There is not one player bigger than the club and the club comes first and that's clearly what has been decided," he said. "They have a good youth policy and we have seen many home grown players come through the youth structure."