PREM clubs have claimed a major scalp with League chairman Gary Hoffman set to quit after losing the confidence of the majority of the 20 top flight teams.
In a significant win for club power, growing discontent with Hoffman’s “lack of leadership” forced the 61-year-old banker to agree to fall on his sword.
Hoffman, only in the post since June of last year, was castigated for his role in green-lighting the £300m Saudi takeover of Newcastle.
The backlash saw one meeting of Prem chiefs stunned into silence when Burnley owner Alan Pace questioned whether the entire board should be forced out over the issue.
Hoffman attempted to quell the revolt in a series of meetings and conversations with club bosses.
It appeared as if he had done enough as there were no discussions about his position during last week’s “shareholder” meeting of the clubs.
But behind the scenes, Hoffman became aware that the friction was not going to go away after accusations that he had left them in the dark over the Newcastle sale.
The scale of the club fury was demonstrated when they ignored the Board and voted to form a eight-club committee to draft new financial rules aimed at curtailing owner funding and preventing the new Toon owners from pumping millions into the club through “inflated” sponsorship deals.
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Anger over the Newcastle situation has united the clubs from both ends of the financial spectrum.
And Hoffman’s imminent departure, expected to be confirmed by the end of this week, is the culmination of a crisis of confidence that has been brewing for more than a year and which has seen clubs looking for an issue to bring matters to a head.
SunSport understands that Liverpool and Manchester United, in particular, have been underwhelmed with Hoffman for months over a number of issues although they were not prominent in the demands for his head.
The Big Six remain angry over the failure of both Hoffman and chief executive Richard Masters to persuade rivals to extend the use of five substitutes into last season.
Other issues include the ongoing wait for the result of the “strategic review” promised in the wake of the Project Big Picture changes demanded by the richest clubs.
And while the 14 clubs omitted from the breakaway European Super League project welcomed the defiant stance by Masters and Hoffman which helped bring the idea crashing down in April, recent events – including blocking the proposed Boxing Day away shirt campaign to promote the homeless charity Shelter – have seen much of that goodwill evaporate.
There is currently no active or immediate appetite to remove Masters, set to be bolstered by the anticipated £1.5bn new US TV deal to be announced in the coming days after a second round of bidding involving six potential broadcasters.
A number of club bosses believe forcing out Hoffman is, however, a shot across the chief executive’s bows.
But there is a concern that it leaves a void at the top of the organisation, which only turned to Masters as chief executive when the first two choices, TV executive Susanna Dinnage and former Guardian boss David Premsel, fell out of the frame.
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