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Premier League Ownership: Foreign Hands in English Pies?

October 13, 2009

g & h

We’ve seen quite a bit of discussion about the increasing foreign influence in the English game recently at WDKF.  The Premiership has undoubtedly become an International League with managers from throughout the world often fielding squads made up entirely of non-English players, and ownership spanning the globe.  We may even see clubs from Scotland enter the English League. Perhaps WDKF writer Rob’s Vision of a European Super League isn’t very far-fetched.

An interesting statistic:  Of the 20 clubs currently competing in the English Premier League, half are foreign owned.

England England  [10]
Arsenal – Arsenal Holdings PLC
Blackburn – Trustees of the Jack Walker Settlement
Bolton – Eddie Davies
Burnley – Barry Kilby
Everton – Bill Kenwright
Hull City – Paul Duffen
Stoke City – Peter Coates
Tottenham – Joe Lewis
Wigan – Dave Whelan
Wolverhampton – Steve Morgan
Aston Villa – Randy Lerner
Liverpool – Gillette and Hicks
Manchester United – Malcolm Glazer
Sunderland – Ellis Short
Russia Russia [1]
Chelsea – Roman Abramovich
Hong Kong Hong Kong [1]
Birmingham – Carson Yeung
Egypt Egypt [1]
Fulham – Mohamed El-Fayed
Manchester City – Sheikh Mansour
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia [1]
Portsmouth – Ali Al-Faraj
Iceland Iceland [1]
West Ham United – CB Holdings

I’m always curious to see where finances are coming from because as we’ve seen, money drives this sport.   The ownership trend is one I’d follow over player and manager nationality.

So what do you see for the future of the English game? Super League by 2020?

13 Comments leave one →
  1. October 13, 2009 2:42 pm

    Im one of the few Mancs that has no preference on who owns my club. When the Edwards family owned United, their agenda was the same as the Glazers, so who matters who gets the profits at the end of the day? The only prerequisite i insist on is that the manager gets backed with a decent transfer budget..bout £20-30 million a year. After that fat old Malcolm can take his cut..i couldnt care if he came from Tulsa or Timbuktu

    • October 13, 2009 2:46 pm

      Do you trust that in their quest for profit foreign owners wouldn’t be more susceptible to allowing the English game to become more international? The need for profit is universal, but does nationality of owners play into other motivation?
      I don’t know. I left that for commentator debate.

      • Neil permalink
        October 13, 2009 2:56 pm

        Katie, I’m not sure what you mean by “allowing the English game to become more international”. Do you mean in terms of players, playing style?

      • October 13, 2009 3:26 pm

        No, in terms of leaning towards something like the European Super League which Rob wrote about. Taking big money, big clubs out of England….

      • October 13, 2009 3:40 pm

        Actually if the owners of these foreign clubs all combine to pull out their clubs from their respective FAs, then technically they COULD create the European Super League. Because what you get at the core is club owners who combine to have a mini-league of their own across Europe. Except it wouldn’t be so mini. It’s be the money-league.

      • October 13, 2009 3:40 pm

        Doesnt matter if youre English or Russian or Alien. All football club owners at this end of the game want to make a buck…some are more conscientious than others, but like all business someone has to pay the bills and someone makes the dollars. If we had 20 English owners in the Prem we would have just as many foreign players and coaches, and they would jump at the chance of a Super League..there would be little sentiment for the English game to remain if someone waved a massive cheque in their faces.

  2. maserati4200 permalink
    October 13, 2009 3:09 pm

    The following are just idle and mischevious thoughts, which have no foundation whatsoever…

    If one is being cynical, one could speculate that the in-flow of certain foreign “investment” into certain clubs provides a convenient means whereby said “investment” could, in some cases, be “laundered”.

  3. maserati4200 permalink
    October 13, 2009 3:56 pm



    I’m amazed!!!

    Knock me down with a feather!!!!

  4. Neil permalink
    October 13, 2009 4:01 pm

    Simon Kuper wrote a very good article in the FT a couple of weeks back on the football business model: here it is
    The title is “Football abandons the fantasy that it is a business”.

    • maserati4200 permalink
      October 13, 2009 4:10 pm

      Great post, Neil.

      The fantasy (and debt) is unsustainable, without doubt.

  5. October 13, 2009 4:21 pm

    In the beginning I was a little dubious about the Glazers (mainly because at the time I was a United shareholder – and before you ask it was like about 20 shares given to me as a birthday present and I never had a say) and I held onto my shares for as long as possible. Admittedly I knew that eventually I would get bought out but I stood my ground and awaited my little cheque in the post.

    I admit my dubiousness (if that’s not a word it should be!) was mainly because of having to sell my shares, I liked having a teeny tiny part of the club. Then I realised of all the investors it really wasn’t so bad. I like the fact that they don’t interfere and decide who we should buy/sell etc, although I wonder if that will change when Sir Alex retires… I hope not.

    I think the Super League is just a matter of time… who knows the clubs could be talking about it right now…

    • October 13, 2009 4:35 pm

      Spot on Sarah! When we were a PLC it was a complete ball ache. They would interfere at every junction..much easier to have a board of a few who decide on matters. The PLC was a bit of a disaster

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