LONDON (AP) English Premier League clubs agreed on Thursday to give departing executive chairman Richard Scudamore 5 million pounds ($6 million) over three years despite a public backlash.
The Football Supporters' Federation urged clubs not to give him the money after news of the planned farewell payment leaked, branding the move "hugely unpopular."
The league justified the payout to retain Scudamore as an adviser to prevent him taking his knowledge to a rival, saying it ensured "the best possible protection" of the competition.
"The Premier League is the most supported league in the world and he has unique knowledge and experience which is going to be an ongoing benefit to the Premier League over the next three years," Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said outside a meeting of the clubs. "We were all very supportive. It was an absolutely fair payment. It was a discussion for the Premier League to make a decision because it's a central cost and all the clubs were behind it."
It was agreed by the league's audit and remuneration committee and endorsed by the 20 teams at Thursday's meeting. Scudamore's last published annual salary was 2.5 million pounds, including bonuses, which is dwarfed by the $40 million basic salary collected by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
"You are almost looking for trouble," West Ham co-owner David Gold said, when asked about criticism. "This is all very appropriate. We are all very pleased."
Scudamore was chief executive from 1999 to 2014 and was then promoted to executive chairman. The new structure will see the league have a separate CEO and non-executive chairman again.
Susanna Dinnage will leave her role as global president of Discovery's Animal Planet brand next year to become the league's new chief executive. Claudia Arney, a non-executive director of the league, will be interim chairman during the appointment process.
Also, clubs agreed to introduce video assistant referees from next season, pending approval from soccer's lawmakers.
The summer transfer window will also close again before the start of the season in August 2019 after some clubs failed in a bid to revert to the system where deals could still be done until the end of August.